BENFICA VS ARSENAL: PREDICTIONS
Arsenal avoided a fourth successive winless game in the Premier League when they battered Leeds 4-2 at the weekend, with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang rediscovering his shooting boots and netting a first league hat-trick for the north Londoners, but attention must now turn to a daunting away game against Portuguese giants Benfica.
The Gunners cantered to top spot in Group B, avoiding a banana skin slip-up in what many would have considered a favourable draw before a ball was kicked, with Mikel Arteta’s side posting six wins out of six. But, in Benfica, they face their most difficult challenge in Europe so far this season.
Jorge Jesus returned to Lisbon in the summer after masterminding Copa Libertadores success in the Flamengo hotseat, but Benfica’s prospect of taking the Primeira Liga title off Porto are in disarray at the minute, with local rivals
Ruben Amorim’s men are unbeaten in the Portuguese top flight and some 13 points ahead of Benfica. Jesus may, therefore, see the Europa League as his side’s greatest chance of winning silverware this season, but the Eagles have not tasted continental success since Eusebio was scoring for fun in 1962.
BENFICA VS ARSENAL: BETTING TIPS
Darwin Nunez to score anytime @2/1 with Paddy Power
Both teams to score @7/10 with SBK
Odds correct at the time of writing. 18+ Only. Terms and Conditions Apply.
BENFICA VS ARSENAL: MATCH STATS
Benfica will feel confident of breaching Arsenal’s net. They do, after all, boast the highest scorer in the competition in Pizzi (six goals) and the second-highest in Darwin Nunez (five goals). But it is the latter who has been the standout star for Benfica this term and elicited covetous glances from Europe’s elite clubs.
The Uruguayan is Benfica’s chief creator in the Primeira Liga with six assists but his five strikes in Europe illustrates his ability to be both selfless in the final third and clinical in front of goal.
Arsenal, likewise, are not short of attacking options. In Nicolas Pepe, Arteta has a player who has performed wonders in the Europa League away from the pressurised spotlight of Premier League football, netting three goals and registering a further three assists in his six appearances. In fact, the Ivorian has been involved in 48 open play sequences that have ended with a shot, four more than anyone else.
BENFICA VS ARSENAL: SQUAWKA SAYS
Scoreline prediction: Benfica 2-2 Arsenal