Johnny Sexton on his first All Blacks encounter, Arsenal make it 11-in-a-row

Morning Sports Briefing: Keep ahead of the game with ‘The Irish Times’ sports team

Danny Welbeck celebrates his winner for Arsenal in Lisbon. Photograph: Francisco Leong/AFP/Getty

Danny Welbeck celebrates his winner for Arsenal in Lisbon. Photograph: Francisco Leong/AFP/Getty

The autumn Test series - and more pertinently a date with the All Blacks - looms large for Ireland, with the world’s first and second ranked sides set to go toe-to-toe at the Aviva Stadium on November 17th. Johnny Sexton will be key to Ireland’s hopes of toppling the world champions - especially in the absence of Conor Murray - and he knows better than anyone what to expect when facing Steve Hansen’s side. Indeed, this morning he remembers the intensity of his first start against New Zealand back in 2010 - a game the tourists won 38-18 in Dublin: “I vomited at half-time,” he said. “It was just an incredible pace to the game, just every collision was ferocious. Every collision was like the first collision of the game. That was my first time playing against them and it was an eye-opener. Our levels of fitness now and our levels of preparation have gone up a lot since then.”

Arsenal made it 11 wins on the bounce in all competitions last night, as they beat Sporting 1-0 in Lisbon thanks to a 77th minute strike from Danny Welbeck. Unai Emery’s side now sit three points clear of the Portugese in their Europa League Group E. Celtic’s hopes of reaching the competition’s knockouts were dealt a blow however, as two goals in the space of five first-half minutes saw them beaten 2-0 in Leipzig. Meanwhile Ruben Loftus-Cheek pressed his claims for a place in Mauricio Sarri’s regular starting XI as his hat-trick helped Chelsea brush aside BATE Borisov 3-1 at Stamford Bridge.

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