Astana vs Manchester United
Given that United have already qualified for the last 32 of the Europa League and that they have three tricky league games in seven days against Aston Villa, Tottenham and Man City, it’s fair to say that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will more than likely give the kids a run out in Kazakhstan.
However, since United’s youths have stopped a mediocre season from becoming an unmitigated disaster, it probably means that United will collect another three points on Thursday.
In fairness, United’s under-12s should probably be able to beat Astana based on the group stages so far.
The Kazakhs have lost all four of their group stage games so far this season and have shipped 11 goals in their last two games, both against AZ Alkmaar.
A youth-infused United dominated proceedings against Astana in Old Trafford but only had a Mason Greenwood effort to show for their superiority.
They will dominate again on Thursday and, given their squeaky clean defensive record in Europe, should have enough to win regardless of starting XIs.
Man Utd to win @ 13/10
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Arsenal vs Eintracht Frankfurt
What more can be said about Arsenal? It’s almost gotten to the point where it’s not even funny anymore.
It has almost been two months since the Gunners last won a game in any competition in a run that includes a total of eight games.
Luckily for Arsenal, Eintracht Frankfurt come into Thursday’s game in almost equally poor form.
The Germans have lost each of their last three games in all competitions and present Arsenal with a golden opportunity to arrest an alarming run of results.
Arsenal ran out convincing winners in Germany in the first round of fixtures, although they benefitted from a contentious sending off with the game still in the balance. They will look to do so again on Thursday, red card or no red card.
They really should have enough to get over the line in this.
Arsenal to win @ 5/6
Braga vs Wolves
Wolves have responded very well to that potentially damaging opening day home defeat to Braga and now look on course to qualify for the knockout stages.
It’s not just Wolves’ Europa League form that has improved since that defeat either. Wolves have only lost once in all competitions since that loss at home to Braga (a League Cup defeat to Aston Villa where Wolves played a second-string team) in a run that has propelled them to fifth in the league.
A win on Thursday would almost certainly ensure that they go through as group winners and it’s not outside the realms of possibility that they will do so against a Braga side that has been distinctly average this season.
The Portuguese club have a record of just four wins from 11 league games domestically and have failed to keep a clean sheet in each of their last three European outings.
Wolves, on the other hand, have a perfect record on the road in Europe in five qualifying and group stage games this season and are better suited to playing away from Molineux.
They sit in and rip teams apart on the break as Manchester City found out to their detriment in October and, against a leaky Braga defence, will look to do the same again in Portugal.