September 19th, 2019

The Europa League starts tonight!

With the start of the Champions League this past Tuesday, it’s now turn for the Europa League to commence for the 2019/2020 season!

Last years competition seen two English sides in Arsenal and Chelsea battle it out in the final. You know that place that was 6,000 miles away and very easy to travel too? lovely Baku in Azerbaijan.

The air miles will be racking up for the Thursday Night Football games ahead, in anticipation for the final in Gdansk on the 27th May. Let’s take a look at the home nations teams’ who play tonight:


Group F-Eintracht Frankfurt v Arsenal

Last years beaten finalists Arsenal couldn’t use the winning experience of manager Unai Emery in the competition to get over the final hurdle.

Emery has won the trophy three times in succession at Sevilla, but went down to a 4-1 defeat to former Chelsea boss Maurizio Sarri. Until he abruptly left English football and set into the Italian sunset for Turin.

Arsenal’s blistering counter-attacking football combining Lacazette, Aubameyang and newly-acquired Nicholas Pepe will cause any European opposition problems. It’s their back line who have regressed massively from the Wenger days. (Which I didn’t think was possible)

Frankfurt lost Ante Rebic, Luka Jovic and Sebastien Haller this summer and aren’t as much of a threat they caused in the competition last year.


Group L-Man Utd v Astana

Where do we start? United under second-year coach Ole Gunnar Solskjaer have got rid of the deadwood and cashed in on the enigmatic Lukaku and Alexis Sanchez shipping them to Inter Milan.

The signing of Daniel James, Harry Maguire and Wan-Biasaka have added fresh faces and that United identity were so used to seeing in the past.

Man United lifting the Europa League trophy in 2017

Man United won the competition in the 2016-17 season under Jose Mourinho and will hope for another successful European run in the competition. A home tie at Old Trafford is certainly a nice way to start your campaign.

United arenโ€™t as bad as people make out, no matter how much fun we like to poke at them! Tonight’s opponents Astana are from Kazakhstan, not really renounced for their footballing ability. This should be an easy three points.


Group K-Wolves v Braga

The surprise package in last years league season, Wolves under the guidance of Portuguese manager Nuno Espirito Santo secured a top 7 finish and entry into the Europa League this year. Some achievement!

A qualification process would take the English-side on a trip to face Crusaders from Belfast, Pyunik in Armenia and knocked out Italian’s Torino to finally secure their spot.

Espirito Santo will welcome a team he knows very well in Portugal’s Braga to Molineaux at 8pm tonight. A team who seem to be a regular in European competition, will pose a tough threat in Group K.


Group E-Celtic v Rennes

In what looks like a group of death for Celtic with Rennes, Lazio and Cluj will certainly test the Scottish champions.

Neil Lennon’s team will travel to France in the hope to nick a point, or possibly more. However Rennes’ only home league defeat since December came via a last-minute Lyon winner in March. A tough start for Celtic no doubt.


Group G-Rangers v Feyenoord

I don’t want to sound like I’m out to get Scottish football but Rangers don’t have a hope tonight. Sorry lads.

Former defender Japp Stam leads his Dutch outfit into Glasgow and wonโ€™t be going into Ibrox to conceding goals to a borderline Jermain Defoe and angry-head Alberto Morelos.

Steven Gerard has restored confidence in the Blues faithful but I think they’ll fall into the trap here against tougher opposition.


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Specials:

Lazio, PSV Eindhoven, Seville-4/1

Aubameyang to score, Arsenal to win, both teams to score-5/1

Frankfurt v Arsenal, both teams to score in first half-11/4

Man Utd to win 3-0, 3-1 or 3-2 -3/1

Rashford to score in both halves-9/1

Man Utd to win by 4 or more goals-5/1

Rennes v Celtic, both to score in the first half-4/1

Christie to score, Celtic to win, both teams to score-12/1

Morelos to score and be carded-9/2

Rangers v Feyenoord, both to score in the first half-7/2