The Europa League, now affectionately known as ‘that yoke on a Thursday that links the weekend to the Champions League’ is back. It features such mainstays as Manchester United, Arsenal and the occasional appearances from Celtic and Rangers.
And Qarabag – don’t forget Qarabag. Doesn’t it sound like someone from Bolton saying ‘carrier bag’? Anyway, here goes.
Arsenal haven’t a whole lot going for them, but Emery’s side is crying out to be set up to play on the counter attack. Except they’re too stubborn and maybe too naïve to give the ball to the opposition in England.
Thankfully, Frankfurt like to keep the ball on the deck and play mindless passes in midfield that will bore you to tears, but will pique the interest of Nicolas Pepe, who will tear this competition apart.
Just this year, Frankfurt lost Ante Rebic, Luka Jovic and Sebastien Haller. Those three could get into any side in England, outside City and Liverpool.
Respite for Emery? He probably needs to win this tournament if he’s to keep his job, should he last until May.
Selection: Arsenal to win @ 13/10
I nearly fell off my chair. A few weeks ago, Rennes were beating Paris Saint-Germain. A few weeks ago, Celtic were being ripped apart from Cluj.
The prices simply reflect that more people are likely to back Celtic on the continent because of their familiarity to UK-based audiences. Don’t fall for the trap, folks.
Romain Del Castillo is the best young player you’ve never heard of, and Rennes’ only home league defeat since December came via a last-minute, Lyon winner, in March.
Selection: Rennes to win @ 11/10
This isn’t the Feyenoord team who, admittedly, were blessed by Robin van Persie’s 17 goals last season, but they’re a Jaap Stam outfit who won’t be going to Ibrox and conceding goals to a borderline static Jermain Defoe.
Irish hopeful Liam Kelly will make the trip to Ibrox, and alongside Leroy Fer, they should cause serious damage to a Rangers midfield that will grow frustrated and kick out when they can’t regain possession.
Steven Gerrard has restored a level of composure to this Rangers outfit, but still not enough to avoid falling into the trap here.
Selection: Feyenoord to win @ 11/5
Honestly, whose behind United’s first team? Greenwood’s going to be up top, with the likes of Andreas Pereira and Lingard in behind, and you just wonder where the space will come from for them to actually convert chances.
United aren’t as bad as people make out, no matter how much fun we like to poke at them, but in reality, we know they’re not conceding here – it’s just more and more likely that they won’t be scoring a hat-full of goals themselves.
And when you add in a mediocre crowd, possibly in the rain, against a team who honestly aren’t going to leave their own 18-yard box. It’s the perfect storm, isn’t it?
Selection: Under 3.5 Goals @ 1/2
*This accumulator pays approx 22/1 at the prices shown which are correct at time of publication.