Omonia Nicosia v Man Utd
Man Utd may have been on the end of a thrashing dished out by local rivals City, but Pep Guardiola’s juggernaut and Erling Haaland in particular will haunt a number of teams this season, while this fixture should prove an entirely different prospect. Erik ten Hag’s side have previously demonstrated an ability to bounce back from defeats, recording victories immediately after losses to Brighton and Real Sociedad, as they head into this fixture having taken maximum points from five of their last seven outings.
This spell has included clean sheets picked up on the road at Southampton, Leicester and Sheriff Tiraspol, as well as home wins over Arsenal and Liverpool, against whom they only conceded a single goal each. Of course, Erik ten Hag will undoubtedly make changes after the weekend’s result, especially with Raphael Varane withdrawn at half time on the weekend, with some of those on the fringes likely to be handed an opportunity here. However, with Martin Dubravka, Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Donny van de Beek all injured, while Harry Maguire is also a doubt, the line-up may not be too far removed from a first-choice eleven in any case.
The Dutchman actually played his strongest available side in Man Utd’s last European game as they ran out 2-0 winners over Sheriff Tiraspol, but even then they were unable to rack up a big scoreline. In fact, since hitting rock-bottom with the 4-0 defeat away at Brentford in August, Man Utd have only seen more than two goals in three of seven subsequent fixtures, while they themselves have bagged two goals or less on five occasions.
With that in mind, the hosts here may well succeed in keeping the scoreline down, with their defeats to Sheriff Tiraspol and Real Sociedad in this competition both featuring fewer than four strikes. The close nature of the defeat to the latter will provide further reassurance to Neil Lennon that his side can compete, and for periods frustrate, here as well. Indeed, each of Man Utd’s past six European matches have all seen fewer than three goals, as well as eight of their last 10 in Europe’s second-tier alone.
MAN UNITED TO WIN AND OVER 3.5 GOALS
Arsenal v Bodo Glimt
Arsenal will be in high spirits having dominated North London rivals Tottenham from start to finish in the 3-1 weekend win, even if Emerson’s red card after an hour helped prevent any sort of fightback. The only blemish on the Gunners’ record this season came in a defeat at Old Trafford, as they’ve now won eight of nine appearances, having also excelled in pre-season with emphatic victories over both Chelsea and Sevilla.
Summer signings Gabriel Jesus and Oleksandr Zinchenko have made a real difference, as has William Saliba on his return to the club following another loan spell. Those three are unlikely to be involved from the start here, but there’s certainly greater squad depth available to Mikel Arteta and the likes of Fabio Vieira, Marquinhos, Eddie Nketiah and Takehiro Tomiyasu will all be desperate to impress to make an impression. However, Mohamed Elneny (hamstring) and Emile Smith Rowe (groin) will miss out, while Cedric Soares isn’t expected to be in contention either.
Despite the burgeoning partnership between Gabriel Magalhaes and William Saliba, it’s worth noting that the Gunners have only registered a single clean sheet in six games now, with the likes of Fulham and Zurich getting in on the act.
The visitors have also shown an ability to find the net against better opponents, as since the start of last season, the Norwegian club are an impressive W5-D3-L1 in contests with Roma (4), Celtic (2), AZ Alkmaar (2) and PSV (1). Both teams scored in all but one of these nine fixtures, with Bodo Glimt scoring at least twice on seven occasions, most notably springing a shock 6-1 win over the Italian club.
Although adept going forwards, albeit against weaker opposition most of the time, Bodo Glimt’s backline can’t quite offer the same encouragement. Both teams have scored in 10 their past 12 outings, with only one of these games (away at PSV) against a side anywhere remotely in Arsenal’s stratosphere. Mikel Arteta may well shuffle the pack, but expect his fringe players to have the necessary cutting edge to break down their visitors.
ARSENAL TO WIN AND BOTH TEAMS TO SCORE
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