By William Hill
Last Updated: 12th December 2019
This season’s Europa League group stage comes to a close on Thursday night with Arsenal, Rangers, Manchester United, Celtic and Wolves all in action for the final time before attention turns to the knockout rounds. We preview the five British sides’ matches.
Arsenal seeking passage to next round
Arsenal currently top Group F, but still haven’t confirmed their place in the last 32. They face a tricky away tie at Standard Liege, who need to win to have any chance of going through. While the Gunners recently recorded their first win under interim manager Freddie Ljungberg against West Ham this week, they haven’t looked great on the pitch, and Liege could fancy their chances. Arsenal are 17/20 for the win, while Liege are 11/4. Both teams to score is a very short 1/2, but a score draw can be backed at 3/1, which will see the north London side through. Gabriel Martinelli, meanwhile, who netted against West Ham on Monday, is 6/1 to score two or more and those enhanced odds could be worth taking advantage of.
Rangers chasing point to qualify
Rangers go into their sixth group game of the campaign with a one-point lead at the top of Group G, but all four teams can still qualify in a very competitive pool. Rangers host third-place Young Boys on Thursday night and a draw, at 14/5, will be enough for the Glasgow side to go through. Rangers are 4/5 to win, while the visitors are 16/5 for the victory. Rangers have become difficult to beat at home under Steven Gerrard, and will be confident of their chances to progress. Alfredo Morelos will look to bounce back from a poor Old Firm game, which saw his side lose to Celtic in the Scottish League Cup final last week, with the feisty Colombian 10/11 to score anytime.
Manchester United to win again
Manchester United face AZ Alkmaar in the battle for top spot in Group L, but the Red Devils have been revitalised in recent weeks. Wins against both Tottenham and rivals Manchester City in recent fixtures has renewed the sense of optimism at Old Trafford under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. This could be a watershed moment for the United rebirth, and they are just 13/20 to win at home. Visiting Alkmaar are 18/5, but there seems to be only one outcome here. Back United either at 13/20, or with a -1 handicap at 9/5, which offers significant value.
Celtic to reign supreme in Romania
Celtic come into this one with CFR Cluj knowing they are already through as Group E winners, having won four games out of five in their campaign so far and drawing the other one – so they could be forgiven for taking their foot off the gas in Romania. Cluj, meanwhile, may need a draw or win to guarantee their qualification, depending on Lazio’s result against Rennes, so one could be tempted to back favourites Cluj here, who are 10/11 for the victory. With the short price, however, Celtic offer far more value at 17/5 to claim all three points. Given their last outing saw them see off rivals Rangers to secure the Scottish League Cup last week, not to mention Neil Lennon’s side sitting two points clear at the top of the Scottish Premier League, Celtic should be full of enough confidence to get the job done and make it five wins from six.
Cutrone to fire Wolves to victory
Wolves are another of the British teams already sure of their passage to the knockout rounds, sitting six points clear of third place in second in Group K ahead of their home tie against Besiktas. With the Turkish side sitting bottom of the group with just one win from five so far, and Nuno Espirito Santo’s men riding high in the Premier League in sixth place, the Midlands outfit should be too strong for Besiktas. Wolves are 4/9 favourites for the win, with Besiktas at 13/2, so the value bet probably lies elsewhere. Summer signing Patrick Cutrone has been given a regular run-out in the Europa League this season and netted against West Ham last week – and given the former AC Milan man to score first has been boosted from 7/2 to 9/2, that could be the sensible bet when it comes to this game.