Former Portugal striker Nuno Gomes has issued a warning to Arsenal regarding four specific Benfica players ahead of tonight’s clash.
The two sides are set for an unprecedent encounter in the Round of 32 stage of the Europa League, with both ties to be played at neutral venues – starting in Rome this evening.
Benfica, like Arsenal, have endured a disappointing domestic campaign so far and are looking to their continental involvement to provide a boost.
While Mikel Arteta’s side may be considered favourites, as they boast a 100% record in the competition this season, Gomes has issued a warning.
“We cannot deny it has been a disappointing season so far for Benfica. The team have lost the League Cup and Super Cup finals, and the board and the manager can’t be happy with the performances so far,” he told the Mirror.
“But a club like Benfica always has big players, and if you have big players things can always turn around.
“It is the same for Arsenal – they were having a bad season but must always be considered one of the favourites to win the tournament because of their history.”
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Gomes then singled out four players in particular who will be pivotal for the Portuguese side, adding: “We have players with plenty of Premier League experience, such as Jan Vertonghen, Nicolas Otamendi and Adel Taraabt.
“And up front there is Darwin Nunez from Uruguay. He’s not playing at his best but is big, powerful, and can cause Arsenal problems, I hope!
“I couldn’t bet on the winner of the game – without the fans in the stands, and at neutral grounds, neither team has an advantage over the other. It’s too close to call.”