The Europa League group stage is nearing its conclusion. Five clubs have already clinched qualification for the next round, a list that includes Manchester United. Although, United still have to secure top spot in Group L as they go away to Astana.
Meanwhile, fellow Premier League sides Wolverhampton Wanderers and Arsenal are both in prime position to follow United to the round of 32 and they can book their place if they can get positive results this matchday.
But while the Europa League 2019 odds have a struggling Arsenal side favoured at home against Eintracht Frankfurt, Wolves will be slight underdogs as they travel to Portugal to take on their top Group K rivals, Braga.
Manchester United call up youngsters for Astana trip
With Manchester United secured a spot in the last 32, manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has the luxury of giving several youth players a run-out in a European match. A total of 14 teenagers are part of United’s 18-man squad. That includes young Max Taylor, who is back 12 months after undergoing chemotherapy for testicular cancer.
Solskjaer gave a start to young Mason Greenwood in their last Europa League match at home against Partizan Belgrade. The 18-year-old made the most of his chance as he scored a goal and provided an assist as United ran out comfortable 3-0 winners.
The likes of Tahith Chong, Axel Tuanzebe, and James Garner are also likely to get another appearance against Astana. But despite fielding a much-weakened side away from home, United will still be favoured to come up with the win.
United’s win against Partizan was a good lift for the club after they suffered a 1-0 away defeat to Bournemouth. And this trip to Astana will be another opportunity for Solskjaer to lift the team’s spirits after another setback against Sheffield United.
While they did remarkably well to go up 3-2 after being down 2-0, that performance showed United still have a ways to go. Although, Greenwood and Brandon Williams did offer some positivity as they both got on the scoresheet.
In-form Wolves and Braga battle for top spot
Wolverhampton Wanderers have been in fine form in recent weeks. They’ve won three games on the bounce and are undefeated in their last eight Premier League matches (four wins, four draws). That impressive streak has seen them climb all the way up to fifth in the table.
Much like last season, Raul Jimenez has been right in the middle of the team’s recent success. The Mexican forward has scored in four matches in a row and has six goals in his last seven appearances. He’s also scored a couple of goals in the Europa League, both against Slovan Bratislava.
Wolves are currently second in Group K with nine points in four games. The only setback among their Europa League 2019 results was a surprise 1-0 defeat at home to their next opponents and group leaders, Braga.
A point will be enough for Wolves to secure their spot in the next round. However, they will likely be eager to get some revenge on the Portuguese side after their previous meeting. The English side have been terrific away from home in Europe this season. Including the qualifying rounds, they have won all five of their away fixtures in the Europa League.
Struggling Arsenal host Eintracht Frankfurt amid Emery speculation
Arsenal are all but through to the next round as well. They currently lead Group F and have a four-point lead over top challengers Standard Liege and Eintracht Frankfurt.
However, Arsenal will not be in the best of form heading into this match. They’ve won none of their last six matches — five draws and one defeat — a stretch which began with a 2-2 draw against Crystal Palace.
They really should’ve slumped to a second straight defeat in the Premier League at home against Southampton and were only rescued by a stoppage-time Alexandre Lacazette equaliser. And despite salvaging a draw, Arsenal fans still peppered the team with boos.
This recent run of poor results has continued to put even more pressure on manager Unai Emery as calls for his head grow louder.
The SBOBET odds still have Arsenal as the outright favourites to win the Europa League, but given the club’s recent struggles, even that might not be enough to save Emery’s job at this point. The Gunners are reportedly interested in Massimiliano Allegri and Mikel Arteta as potential replacements, while former Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino is also now available.
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