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Benfica vs Arsenal could be moved to neutral venue

Arsenal's Europa League clash vs Benfica in danger of being moved to neutral venue

January 26, 2021 By Ali M.
The Gunners are in talks to play the first leg at a neutral venue due to COVID-19-related concerns.

According to Sky Sports, Arsenal are in conversation to move their highly-anticipated Europa League knockout-stage showdown with Benfica to a neutral venue. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the Premier League side might be unable to visit the Portuguese giants for the first of their two encounters and have thus began talks to explore an alternative.

The first leg of their round of 32 showdown is scheduled to take place next month – February 18, to be precise. The Eagles' famous Estádio da Luz is the venue for this fixture, but due to government concerns, the Gunners might not be permitted to fly to Portugal.

As a result, the north London giants are open to the idea of playing at a neutral venue. Benfica, on the other hand, are adamant that the first leg must take place in Lisbon for obvious reasons. It remains unclear what the fate of this fixture will be, so this is definitely an area to keep an eye on.

Arteta's side enjoyed an excellent group-stage run, winning every single fixture and scoring 20 goals along the way. While Benfica also boast an unbeaten record, Jorge Jesus' side only won half of their first six fixtures, drawing the other three and thus finishing as runners-up to Rangers in Group D.

The Europa League is crucial to Arsenal as it is their only remaining shot at silverware this season, and is one of two available routes back into the UEFA Champions League. However, with the fixture being a month away, the Gunners' immediate focus is on the Premier League.

The north London giants will be in action, taking on Southampton in a repeat of their weekend FA Cup showdown. The Saints won Saturday's clash but Saka and Co. will be seeking revenge at St. Mary's Stadium. Unfortunately, the visitors will be without captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, with the Gabonese goalscoring machine being ruled out due to an undisclosed personal issue.

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