Ah, the sweet, sweet taste of a Europa League dead rubber in the middle of December in Romania; something that makes players, managers and supporters all rejoice in unison.
There is next to no chance that Neill Lennon will risk any of his first team for this completely pointless tie against Cluj after a superb run of results so far in the group stages. Furthermore, more than a few Celtic players will be nursing hangovers following their League Cup triumph against Rangers last Sunday and it’s hard to believe that subsequent training sessions have had any degree of intensity.
Cluj need just a point in order to qualify in second place in Group E but, up against what could well be a third string Celtic side, anything other than a win should result in their immediate disqualification.
At Evens at the moment, they are a very tempting price.
Selection: Cluj to win @ 1/1
The fact that Arsenal haven’t mathematically qualified yet for the last 32 given that they had nine points after three games is unforgivable, and a reflection of just how bad they have been over the last two months.
Having said that, it would take a shock of epic proportions if Arsenal were to bow out on Thursday. Standard Liege need to win by five if they are to dump Arsenal out, so their status in the competition is secure.
The Gunners need a win to ensure top spot, though, and should be buoyed by their recent win over West Ham. That win was their first win in nine games in all competitions and their first on the road since they beat Eintracht Frankfurt in mid-September. They will surely look to use it as a springboard for better performances over the busy Christmas period.
Selection: Arsenal to win @ Evs
Based off their starting XI in Kazakhstan two weeks ago, United have been targeting this game for quite a while. No matter what happened in the last game week, United knew that they would top the group as long as they beat Alkmaar at home.
And they should do just that.
The Red Devils have just put in what was arguably their best performance in the post-Ferguson era against Manchester City and their performance against Tottenham a few days prior was also excellent.
Beating teams they are expected to beat has been United’s biggest issue this season but, with so much momentum behind them, they should have too much for their Dutch opponents and march to the top of Group L.
Selection: Man Utd to win @ 8/11
Wolves’ uncharacteristic surrender of a two-goal lead in Braga last time out looks costly as they now rely on a favour from eliminated Slovan Bratislava if they are to top the group.
Still, their recovery from that opening day defeat at home to Braga has been nothing short of remarkable.
Questions were asked about whether Wolves could manage the extra games and yet here they are sitting sixth in the league and with their progression to the last 32 of the Europa League already ensured.
They have lost just one of their last 17 games in all competitions – a League Cup defeat to Aston Villa where they fielded an understrength starting team.
However, as good as their run has been, Wolves rarely tend to blow teams away. They have yet to win by more than one goal in the Europa League proper and struggle somewhat when the onus is on them to attack.
They should have just about enough for a rapidly improving Besiktas outfit.
Selection: Wolves to win @2/5.
Like Wolves, Rangers put together an impressive run of results following their sole Europa League defeat earlier in the season. The Scots had been on an 11-game unbeaten run which ground to a halt with their League Cup final defeat to Celtic at the weekend.
As a result, Rangers need just a draw on Thursday to ensure their qualification from one of the tightest groups imaginable. Defeat, however, will almost certainly see them exit the competition.
The Swiss side have only picked up one point from their two away games in Europe so far this season, while Rangers have won all six of their European home games this season, including qualifiers, conceding just one goal in the process.
If Rangers can manage to pick themselves up following Sunday’s crushing defeat, they should have too much for Young Boys.
Selection: Rangers to win @ 4/5
*Prices correct at time of publication