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How to watch Benfica vs Arsenal live

Europa League last 32: How to watch Benfica vs Arsenal live on February 18, 2021 in 170 countries

February 18, 2021 By Ali M.
The Gunners will lock horns with the Eagles in Rome for the first leg of their highly-anticipated showdown. Here’s a preview of Arsenal vs Benfica.

Benfica vs Arsenal – Preview

Arsenal are gearing up for their highly-anticipated European showdown against Benfica, with the north London giants set to lock horns with the Portuguese powerhouse for the first leg of their round of 32 Europa League battle. 

The pair will face off at 3 p.m. ET, with the Gunners aiming to register a precious away win after their confidence-boosting 4-2 victory over Leeds United in the Premier League. This fixture will not be played at the Eagles' famous Estádio da Luz as COVID-19 restrictions forced this leg to be moved to the Stadio Olimpico in Rome.

With new strains of the coronavirus emerging in England, travel from the UK has been suspended by Portugal, hence this rearrangement. Similarly, the return leg, which should have taken place at the Emirates Stadium in London, will now be staged at the Karaiskakis Stadium in Greece. Despite this, the away-goal rule still stands, hence the importance of beating Jorge Jesus' side on the road.

Arteta's crew ended their two-game losing streak over the weekend with their triumph over Leeds. Not only did the team return to winning ways, but club captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang also regained his mojo, bagging a hat-trick in the emphatic victory. This was probably the most crucial part of Sunday's win as Arsenal needed their talisman forward firing at all cylinders in time for their midweek European clash.

Both teams enter this tie with similar form. While Arsenal ended a three-game winless run over the weekend, Benfica head into this fixture on the back of a disappointing 1-1 draw against Moreirense. As a result, both teams boast only two wins from their last five matches, with the Gunners sitting in 10th and the Eagles dropping to fourth in their respective leagues.

The Europa League could be the only route into the Champions League for both sides, hence the importance. A top-four finish for Arsenal appears impossible and given the Eagles' current league position, they too could miss out on UEFA's premier competition. Progression is crucial and it all starts with Thursday's first-leg tie.

Team news

Benfica: Andre Almeida and Gilberto are both sidelined for this fixture, joining long-term absentee Jardel on the injury list. Jan Vertonghen, Nicolas Otamendi and Adel Taarabt are all tipped to feature and will face a familiar foe in the shape of Arsenal.

Arsenal: The Gunners will unfortunately be without Thomas Partey but are boosted by the return of Kieran Tierney. Aubameyang, who was under investigation for allegedly breaking COVID-19 restrictions to get a tattoo, has also made the trip.

Key stats

  • These two sides have met only once in a two-legged European fixture and that was in the 1991/92 European Cup last 16.

  • Benfica won that game 4-2 on aggregate, drawing 1-1 at home before triumphing 3-1 at Highbury.

  • Arsenal have beaten all of the other five Portuguese clubs they've met: Sporting CP, FC Porto, Sporting Braga and Vitória Guimarães. 

  • Only Leverkusen (21) have scored more goals in the Europa League this season than the Gunners (20).

  • No player has been involved in more UEL goals this season than Benfica's Pizzi (6 goals, 2 assists).

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