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Michael Owen delivers Europa League predictions – Good for Man Utd, Rangers to struggle

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Europa League action is back, with Manchester United, Arsenal, Wolves, Celtic and Rangers all in action on Thursday night.

United host FC Astana at Old Trafford, with Arsenal travelling to Bundesliga outfit Eintracht Frankfurt.

The Gunners are looking to go one better than last season after Unai Emery’s men lost in the Europa League final against Chelsea.

Wolves are also in action against Braga in Group K.

Celtic, meanwhile, face Rennes, with Rangers welcoming Feyenoord to Ibrox.

And Michael Owen has delivered his Europa League predictions ahead of Thursday night’s action.

Eintracht Frankfurt v Arsenal

“Last year’s beaten semi-finalists Frankfurt entertain last year’s beaten finalists Arsenal in one of the games of matchday one,” Owen told BetVictor.

“The Bundesliga outfit are a real threat especially at home, although they lost 2-1 at Augsburg at the weekend and lost their most-prized asset Sebastien Haller to West Ham during the summer.

“The Gunners are likely to have their chances on the break and I feel their quality strikers will give Unai Emery a winning start as they bid to go one better in the competition than last year.

“Tip: Arsenal to win and both teams to score.”

Manchester United v FC Astana

“United gained a narrow, but much-needed, win against Leicester on Saturday and should follow it up in what is the first European game between English and Kazakhstani clubs,” he added.

“Astana lost 2-0 against Bate Borisov in Belarus in the last qualifying round but had won the 1st leg 3-0. It would be disappointing if United did not get their Europa League campaign off to a winning start.

“Tip: United to win to nil.”

Rennes v Celtic

“I thought Celtic were excellent in the first Old Firm game of the season and expect them to pick up a valuable point in France,” Owen said.

“It won’t be easy of course against a Rennes side who beat PSG 2-1 earlier in the season and who currently sit second in the French Ligue 1 table after a goalless draw in the Breton derby at Brest at the weekend.

“Tip: Game to finish in a draw.”

Rangers v Feyenoord

“Rangers are without a win against a Dutch side since 2000 (D2 L3) and I believe they may have to settle for a point against a Feyenoord side who, at the time of writing, are unbeaten in the Eredivisie although they have drawn three of their first four league games,” he added.

“Tip: Game to finish in a draw.”

Wolves v Sporting Braga

“Wolves have won all six Europa League ties in reaching the Group stages this season and their Portuguese coach Nuno Espirito Santo will know all about his compatriots who visit Molineux on Thursday,” Owen said.

“Indeed, there are seven Portuguese players in the Wolves squad as well as Frenchman Willy Boly who played for Braga between 2015-16.

“Wolves have conceded eight times in their last couple of league games, but Braga have also lost their last couple of domestic games and were thrashed 4-0 at home by Benfica in their penultimate match. I hope to see Wolves extend their excellent recent European record.

“Tip: Wolves to win.”

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England U21 boss Aidy Boothroyd monitoring Arsenal youngster Bukayo Saka

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‘He is definitely on the radar’: England U21 boss Aidy Boothroyd monitoring Arsenal youngster Bukayo Saka

  • Bukayo Saka has made three Premier League starts already this campaign
  • The Under 19 international is in England’s thinking ahead of next month’s games
  • Arsenal team-mate Joe Willock believes it is only a matter of time before he plays

Arsenal winger Bukayo Saka is being monitored by England’s Under 21s after bursting onto the scene this season.

Saka has made three Premier League starts already and scored during the 3-0 Europa League win at Frankfurt.

The Under 19 international is in England’s thinking ahead of games against Holland and Albania next month.

The Under 19 international is in England’s thinking ahead of games against Holland and Albania

The Under 19 international is in England’s thinking ahead of games against Holland and Albania

‘He is definitely on the radar,’ manager Aidy Boothroyd said. ‘I saw him play against (Nottingham) Forest (last month). I know what he’s all about. He’ll do well enough before long.’

Arsenal team-mate Joe Willock believes it is only a matter of time before Saka makes the step up.

‘There are so many players coming through the ranks who are thriving with ability,’ Willock said. ‘Saka isn’t in the squad but he’s an amazing player and I’m sure he will be one day.’

Arsenal winger Bukayo Saka is being monitored by England’s Under 21s boss Aidy Boothroyd

Arsenal winger Bukayo Saka is being monitored by England’s Under 21s boss Aidy Boothroyd

Arsenal winger Bukayo Saka is being monitored by England’s Under 21s boss Aidy Boothroyd



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Arsenal legend Ian Wright pinpoints the Unai Emery decision which ‘baffles’ him

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Arsenal legend Ian Wright is “baffled” by the lack of football played by Mesut Ozil so far this season.

Ozil has made just two appearances this term, starting the 2-2 Premier League draw with Watford and 5-0 Carabao Cup win over Nottingham Forest.

However, the German has not featured in head coach Unai Emery’s last three match day squads.

Emery has confirmed Ozil is not injured and his absence is purely down to selection.

Wright, though, wants to see the 31-year-old back in a Gunners shirt sooner or later.

The former striker claims even if Emery wants to sell Ozil in January, prospective clubs will want to have seen him in action recently.

“I want to see more offensive players on the pitch in positions where we’re going to be able to hurt teams,” Wright told Premier League Productions.

“I don’t know what’s happened with Ozil, I’m not sure that we as a club can afford to have a player of that calibre, paying what they’re paying him, which is always going to be mentioned, not even in the squad, not even there at all.

“Because if that’s the case then what’s he doing to that asset?

“Is he going to go in January? Is that what he’s trying to say to us?

“Because for me he should be playing, he should be involved and even if he doesn’t like him, for whatever reason, you’ve got to play him if you want to get rid of him simply because you want people to see that he’s still a quality player. So that one baffles me.”

Arsenal are back in Premier League action next Monday when they visit promoted side Sheffield United.

The Gunners are currently third in the table, eight games into the season, having won half their matches.

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Arsenal ace Eddie Nketiah backed to end Leeds United loan deal early

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Arsenal striker Eddie Nketiah has been backed by Darren Bent to look for a move elsewhere in January after struggling to nail down a spot during his loan spell at Leeds United.

Nketiah joined Championship side Leeds on a season-long loan from Arsenal during the summer transfer window.

He has scored four goals in his nine appearances under Marcelo Bielsa but is yet to start a league game.

And Bent does not want the 20-year-old to fall by the wayside like Saido Berahino did.

“[Nketiah] needs to be playing games,” Bent said on talkSPORT.

“We’ve seen for England Under-21s, we’ve seen over the years to be fair, a lot of strikers, you look at Saido Berahino, you look at his England Under-21 record, it’s as good as anyone’s, he couldn’t nail it down in the league.

“I think for Eddie Nketiah, he’s not playing at Leeds because [Patrick] Bamford’s in the way of him at the minute, and to be fair to Bamford he works extremely hard, and I think that’s the inly thing that’s keeping him in the team at the minute.

“Bielsa likes a hard-working side, he certainly puts defenders under pressure, shuts people down.

“But for someone like Nketiah and Arsenal Football Club, Arsenal are probably looking at this situation and saying ‘listen, we really believe in this kid but he needs to be playing games’.

“At the minute he’s got an impossible task trying to move [Pierre-Emerick] Aubameyang and [Alexandre] Lacazette but he’s never going to get the opportunity to do that if he’s not playing games.

“So I think he may in January have a look at going somewhere else.”

Nketiah scored a hat-trick for the England Under-21s in the 5-1 win over Austria on Wednesday and he impressed former Spurs striker Bent.

“The first one was instinctive, the cross comes in, someone knocks it down, he was just in the right place at the right time, swivels, puts it in,” Bent added.

“The second one a header, again gets himself in the six-yard box between the centre-halves, no one really picks him up, comes in, great header into the far corner.

“And the last one was arguably my favourite, which is a tap in.”

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