Arsenal v Zurich
Arsenal are seeking to wrap up first place, as anything less than a win here would open the door to PSV, who themselves are assured of a top-two spot but can still overtake the Gunners owing to a better head-to-head record. However, with the games coming thick and fast, Mikel Arteta may decide to rotate the squad a little, especially with Bukayo Saka coming off injured at the weekend, joining the likes of Granit Xhaka, Oleksandr Zinchenko and Emile Smith Rowe on the sidelines.
The Gunners may have rattled five in at the weekend hosting the Premier League’s bottom side, Nottingham Forest, but they hadn’t won by more than a single strike in any of their previous six outings. They’ve been particularly workmanlike in Europe, where only one of their five group stage games so far has seen them claim a victory by a greater margin.
Although Arsenal may not be blitzing teams in Europe, scoring just seven times across their five games, Zurich have struggled defensively in this competition, failing to register a clean sheet and conceding five times in both meetings with PSV. The Swiss outfit are also short on output right now as across all competitions, they’ve mustered just four goals from their last seven appearances, drawing blanks in clashes with Winterthur, PSV, Young Boys and Basel.
Arsenal are an impressive W14-D1-L2 this season and will expect to complete formalities on Thursday, but if their previous outings in this competition are anything to go by, an early breakthrough could be on the cards. They’ve scored inside 25 minutes in all three clashes with the group’s weaker sides, Zurich and Bodo Glimt, but they’re unlikely to really step their foot on the gas once the job is done, especially with a trip to Stamford Bridge coming up at the weekend.
ARSENAL TO WIN TO NIL
Real Sociedad v Man Utd
Neither of these sides have had to get out of second gear to dispose of the weaker teams in their group, Omonia Nicosia and Sheriff Tiraspol, but Real Sociedad top the standings having claimed victory over Man Utd on matchday one. There was only one goal on that occasion as the contest was close, and the Spanish side’s results this season would hint at another tight affair.
At least one team has failed to score in all but one of Real Sociedad’s last eight appearances, with six featuring a maximum of two goals, as 1-0 or 2-0 scorelines occurred three times each. Moreover, at least one team has failed to score in 10 of Man Utd’s 16 games this season, including five of the last six. Only one of 10 matches in Group E has seen more than three goals, while eight finished either 1-0, 2-0 or 3-0 as there have been plenty of clean sheets.
The Spanish club certainly won’t be looking to go crazy in attack with just a point required to top the group, particularly with a packed treatment room with absentees concentrated in attack. The likes of Mikel Oyarzabal, David Silva and Real Madrid loanee Takefusa Kubo are amongst those that look set to miss out, though Erik ten Haag has some concerns of his own.
Anthony and Aaron-Wan Bissaka could potentially return here, while Victor Lindelof is expected to recover from illness, but Raphael Varane is out until after the World Cup and Anthony Martial is highly unlikely to make a return here. Still, the previously unconvincing pairing of Lisandro Martinez and Harry Maguire kept west Ham’s attack at bay this weekend, and they can build some further confidence in each other up against a defensive side shorn of some key attacking talent.
BOTH TEAMS TO SCORE (NO)
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