Arsenal vs Benfica preview: Partey to be assessed

Team news and stats ahead of Arsenal vs Benfica in the Europa League last 32 on Thursday; kick-off 5.55pm.

Team news

Arsenal midfielder Thomas Partey faces a late fitness test to determine whether he is fit enough to be involved after a hamstring problem.

If Partey is unavailable, Dani Ceballos is expected to start alongside Granit Xhaka in midfield.

The Gunners are without defender Rob Holding after he was substituted with concussion during Sunday’s 1-0 home defeat to Manchester City.

Having made five changes for the loss, Mikel Arteta could revert back to the same side that played in back-to-back games, including the 1-1 draw in the first leg but Kieran Tierney is expected to replace Cedric Soares in defence.

Graft for the Gunners

Bukayo Saka celebrates with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang after equalising against Benfica
Bukayo Saka celebrates with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang after equalising against Benfica

Bukayo Saka’s equaliser in Rome ensured Arsenal head into their second-leg showdown with Benfica all square at 1-1, but with work to do.

The Gunners have won only one of their last six games in all competitions – they beat Premier League rivals Leeds 4-2 on February 14 after racing into a 4-0 lead – and have lost three of them, a run which culminated in Sunday’s 1-0 home defeat by Manchester City.

A goalless draw would see Mikel Arteta’s men through, but the manager will be keen to leave nothing to chance.

How to follow

Follow Arsenal vs Benfica with our dedicated live blog across Sky Sports’ digital platforms.

Opta stats

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FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from Manchester City’s win over Arsenal
  • Arsenal have won five of their last six home matches against Portuguese opposition (D1), scoring 20 goals across those five victories.
  • Benfica’s only previous away match against Arsenal saw them win at Highbury in the European Cup last 16 in 1991-92. Managed at the time by Sven-Göran Eriksson, Benfica needed extra-time goals from Vasiliy Kulkov and Isaías to secure a 3-1 win.
  • Arsenal have won on each of their previous two visits to Greece, both against, Olympiakos, in the UEFA Champions League in December 2015 and the UEFA Europa League in February 2020.
  • Benfica’s last knockout stage match held in Greece was a 1-0 win away to PAOK Salonika in the last 32 of the UEFA Europa League in 2013-14.
  • Since the start of last season, only Nicolas Pépé (10) has had a direct hand in more of Arsenal’s 37 goals in the UEFA Europa League than Bukayo Saka (3 goals, 6 assists), who netted the equaliser in the first leg.


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