Arsenal vs Benfica preview: How to watch on TV, live stream, kick off time & prediction

Arsenal vs Benfica preview: How to watch on TV, live stream, kick off time & prediction

Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal face Benfica in the return leg of their Europa League round of 32 clash on Thursday evening. The match will be played in Piraeus, Greece due to COVID-19 travel restrictions.

The two sides played out a fairly uneventful 1-1 draw in the first leg, with Bukayo Saka getting the equaliser for the Gunners, taking a valuable away goal into Thursday night’s game. Since that match at the Stadio Olimpico, Arteta’s side lost 1-0 at home to Manchester City in the Premier League, leaving them 11th in the table with just one league win in their last five.

Benfica are not fairing much better on the domestic front, also picking up one win in their last five in Liga NOS. Since the 1-1 draw in Rome last Thursday, Jorge Jesus’ side drew 0-0 at Farense, making it two straight draws in the league for the Aguias. As a result, they have lost further ground on bitter rivals Sporting CP (who are now 15 points ahead of Benfica) and sit fourth in the table, four points off the top three.

Here’s 90min’s preview of the game.

Training PSVTraining PSV
The game will be held at Olympiakos’ home ground, Stadio Georgios Karaiskakis | Soccrates Images/Getty Images

When is it? Thursday 25 February
What time is it? 17:55 (GMT)
Where is it? Stadio Georgios Karaiskakis (Piraeus)
TV Channel? BT Sport 1
Referee? Bjorn Kuipers

Arsenal will once again be without Thomas Partey while Rob Holding joined him on the sidelines after sustaining a concussion in the loss to Manchester City.

Arteta is expected to make a couple of alterations to the side that started against City, meaning Gabriel and David Luiz are likely to start at the back.

Davd Luiz, Gabriel MagalhaesDavd Luiz, Gabriel Magalhaes
David Luiz and Gabriel could return to the starting XI | Paolo Bruno/Getty Images

As for Benfica, there are no fresh injury concerns but, seeing as they simply have to score this time round, Jesus is expected to change his side’s shape. With a 4-4-2 most probable, we could see Rafa Silva and Everton start on the flanks.

Arsenal: Leno; Bellerin, Gabriel, Luiz, Tierney; Ceballos, Xhaka; Saka, Odegaard, Smith Rowe; Aubameyang

Benfica: Leite; Gilberto, Otamendi, Vertonghen, Grimaldo; Silva, Weigl, Pizzi, Everton; Waldschmidt, Nunez

Arsenal

Arsenal 0-1 Manchester City – Premier League (21/2)
Benfica 1-1 Arsenal Europa League (18/2)
Arsenal 4-2 Leeds – Premier League (14/2)
Aston Villa 1-0 Arsenal Premier League (6/2)
Wolves 2-1 Arsenal Premier League (2/2)

Benfica

Farense 0-0 Benfica Liga NOS (21/2)
Benfica 1-1 Arsenal – Europa League (18/2)
Moreirense 1-1Benfica Liga NOS (14/2)
Estoril Praia 1-3 Benfica Taca de Portugal (11/2)
Benfica 2-0 Famalicao – Liga NOS (8/2)

The Gunners can expect a tough battle in this one. With Arsenal’s away goal from the first leg, Benfica have to come out of the blocks fighting to score and, with a lot of attacking talent to show, can provide real threat. Arteta’s backline will have to be focused and strong against the trickery of the likes of Everton and Silva on the wings, the power of Darwin Nunez up top and their main man Pizzi in midfield.

As long as the Gunners stay compact defensively, Arteta’s men should fancy themselves to progress though. Martin Odergaard, Emile Smith Rowe, Bukayo Saka and Dani Ceballos all impressed in the first leg and could prove too much for the Aguilas to handle.

Prediction: Arsenal 2-1 Benfica

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