Europa League preview: Arsenal, Wolves, Man Utd look to advance
Fifteen places remain up for grabs in the Europa League’s Round of 16 after Steven Gerrard’s Rangers handled Braga in Wednesday’s lone second leg.
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Notable names Porto, Benfica, and Ajax enter their second legs with hills to climb, while the three Premier League teams have varying degrees of advantage.
Manchester United v. Club Brugge
United enters the second leg at Old Trafford with an away goal advantage after the 1-1 draw in Belgium.
Luke Shaw says the Red Devils are driven by a desire to play for silverware, and the UEL joins the FA Cup as their lone opportunities to claim trophies this year.
“It is a massive ambition for me,” said Shaw, via The Manchester Evening News. “I was there for the Europa League final, and the feeling, even though I wasn’t on the pitch, was a feeling I have not felt and I wanted more of. I wasn’t involved and that is what is pushing me on even more to get into this final, and others. We should be in finals and we should be in all competitions until the end. We are very confident at the moment.”
Arsenal v. Olympiacos
The Gunners claimed a 1-0 result in Greece, and know a draw will be enough to bring Mikel Arteta’s men to the Round of 16.
The manager was asked what’s different about his Gunners, now back in contention to qualify for Europe via the Premier League table.
“I think the team is progressing well, the club is in a better place,” Arteta said, via Football.London. “We are getting much more unity on the sections of the club and as well a great energy back from the fans every time we play at the Emirates and away from the Emirates. There are a lot of positive things but there are still things to improve individually, collectively and as a club and we are in that process at the moment.”
Espanyol v. Wolves
Wolves rang up a four-goal advantage at the Molineux, and that may give Nuno Espirito Santo a chance to use his depth for a rare time this season.
The boss has counted on players like Conor Coady, Rui Patricio, and Raul Jimenez in all tournaments, and he admits that it’s worn on the squad.
“I wouldn’t say we’ve not suffered,” said Espirito Santo via Wolves’ site. “It’s been tough with a tight schedule, very demanding on the players and I think the credit is on them – the way they compete, the way they prepare themselves to compete, but it’s tough, very tough. ... The credit is for the players, it’s for the staff, but the players buying, believing and working very hard, is what makes things go well.”
Look out for Diogo Jota if he plays; The Wolves star has five goals in his past two matches.
Thursday’s second legs
12:55 p.m. ET kickoffs
Istanbul Basaksehir (1-3) v. Sporting Lisbon
Gent (0-1) v. Roma
Malmo (1-2) v. Wolfsburg
LASK (1-1) v. AZ Alkmaar
Porto (1-2) v. Bayer Leverkusen
Espanyol (0-4) v. Wolves
Basel (3-0) v. APOEL Nicosia
3 p.m. ET
Manchester United (1-1) v. Club Brugge
Celtic (1-1) v. Copenhagen
Benfica (1-2) v. Shakhtar Donetsk
Red Bull Salzburg (1-4) v. Eintracht Frankfurt
Inter Milan (2-0) v. Ludogorets Razgrad
Ajax (0-2) v. Getafe
Sevilla (1-1) v. CFR Cluj
Arsenal (1-0) v. Olympiacos