By News Team
7th April 2021
Manchester United and Arsenal are the last remaining British sides in the Europa League ahead of their quarter-final ties with Granada and Slavia Prague respectively. Both will fancy their chances of going all the way, but will also have the likes of Roma, Ajax or Villareal to contend with in the later rounds.
We preview the action ahead of the first leg ties on Thursday evening.
Granada v Manchester United
The Europa League perhaps offers Ole Gunnar Solskjaer his best opportunity yet to win a maiden trophy as manager of the club with which he won 11 major honours as a player. Currently sitting second in the Premier League, the feeling has been a lot more positive around Old Trafford this campaign than in previous, and major silverware would surely top off a season than can only be seen as progress. The Norwegian’s side will be wary, but not afraid of any of the remaining seven sides in the competition, including Thursday night’s opponents Granada.
In contrast to their European heavyweight opposition, Diego Martinez’s Granada are embarking on their first European campaign and became the first side since RB Leipzig in 2017/18 to reach the quarter-final stage in their first season by edging out Solskjaer’s former club Molde in the last round. Their attack will be spearheaded by former Tottenham man Roberto Soldado, who is 13/5 to score anytime, while midfielder Yangel Herrera, on loan from Manchester City, is the Spaniard’s top scorer in the competition and is 7/1 to pop up with another goal here. They come into this one off the back of three straight defeats in all competitions and were beaten convincingly at home by fellow quarter-finalists Villarreal on Saturday.
United should be full of confidence coming into this one after seeing off AC Milan over two legs in the previous round. The Italian side had impressed with their performance at Old Trafford in the first leg but could not find a reply to Paul Pogba’s early second half goal at the San Siro. United have scored 21 goals in Europe this season, with 62% of those being scored by either Marcus Rashford (7) or Bruno Fernandes (6). The Englishman is 5/1 to opening the scoring, with his Portuguese compatriot 5/4 to score anytime. Solskjaer’s side have been in form since the turn of the year, with just one defeat in their last 16 in all competitions.
Arsenal v Slavia Prague
Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal reached their 16th major European quarter-final despite losing at home to Olympiacos in the second leg of their last 16 clash. They will face the impressive Slavia Prague who return to British shores for the third consecutive round, having already knocked-out both Leicester and Rangers in the previous two.
Arteta could make several changes to the side that was well beaten by Liverpool at the weekend, with a number of his senior players coming in for criticism after the game. They’re without a win in three in all competitions and will be concerned about a declining defensive record that had propped them up earlier in the season and are now without a clean sheet in their last 15 in all competitions. Remarkably, they’ve had 15 different goal scorers in the Europa League this season, the most of any team since Arsenal (16) during the 2017/18 Europa League campaign. Captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is the club’s top scorer in the competition, and could be most likely to open the scoring on the night at 10/3.
Slavia Prague have proved to be one of the surprise packages of the competition this season, emerging from a strong group that also contained Bayer Leverkusen, Nice and FC Midtjylland before dispatching of the aforementioned British sides in the knockout stages. They’re one of the in-form teams in Europe, unbeaten in 21 matches in all competitions since losing to Leverkusen in their final group game. Going forward, Abdallah Sima is their main threat, with 14 goals in all competitions this season, alongside Romanian attacking midfielder Nicolae Stanciu, who scored in both legs against Rangers in the previous round. Sima is 16/5 to score anytime with Stanciu 9/2.