Europa League Matchday 2 Preview – 3 October

by | Football, Previews

Matchday 2 of this seasons Europa League competition sees the three English sides facing tough games on Thursday evening as they look to progress from their respective groups into the knockout stages.

AZ Alkmaar v Manchester United

United travel to Holland to face AZ Alkmaar at the Cars Jeans Stadion in one of the early kick-offs on Thursday, with the visitors looking to build on their opening 1-0 win against FC Astana.

Mason Greenwood was the hero that night, scoring in the 73rd minute, but it was a far from convincing win against the champions of Kazakhstan despite having 72% of the possession and 20 attempts on goal.

Domestically, United have made their worst start to a season in Premier League history, securing just nine points from their opening seven games, a run that has seen them fail to win away from Old Trafford.

Their hosts, AZ Alkmaar, started their Europa League campaign with a decent 2-2 draw at Partizan Belgrade thanks to goals from Calvin Stengs and Myron Baudo, this despite playing with 10-men for more than an hour. They currently sit third in the Dutch Eredivisie, just one point behind both Ajax and PSV, and in Moroccan, Oussama Idrissi, they have a forward in excellent form having scored six goals already this term.

Marcus Rashford and Daniel James will carry the goal threat again for United, with Anthony Martial still injured, but it is going to be a far from comfortable night for them and they could well return to England with nothing to show for their efforts.

Besiktas v Wolverhamton Wanderers

Wolves make the long trip to Istanbul to face Turkish side Besiktas at Vodafone Park with both sides looking to get their Europa League campaigns up and running after opening game defeats.

Wolves were beaten 1-0 at Molyneux by Braga, and despite dominating possession and chances, they fell behind to a Ricardo Horta strike with just 20-minues to go and never looked like equalising after that.

Wolves will go into this game having secured their first Premier League win of the season after a 2-0 win over Watford on Saturday. Matt Doherty and a Daryl Janmaat own-goal secured maximum points for a side who have drawn four and lost two of the other league games.

Besiktas were beaten 4-2 by Slovan Bratislava in their opening Europa League game despite leading 2-1 at half-time. They almost secured a point in the second half but conceded two injury time goals to leave Slovakia pointless.

Domestically, they have made a poor start to their season and currently sit in the Turkish Super Lig relegation zone after one win. They were hammered 4-1 at the weekend by Trabzonspor so pressure is mounting on coach, Abdullah Avci, and this could be a good chance for Wolves to get something from the game.

Arsenal v Standard Liege

Arsenal welcome Belgian side, Standard Liege to the Emirates Stadium, as both teams look to build on comfortable opening game wins.

The Gunners, currently fourth in the Premier League after Monday’s 1-1 draw at Old Trafford, got their Europa League campaign off to the perfect start with an impressive 3-0 win at Eintracht Frankfurt. Goals from Joseph Willock, Bukayo Saka, and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang secured the win, and they will be confident of maximum points again to take a stranglehold on Group F.

They have lost just once in all competitions this season, a 3-1 defeat at Liverpool, but have scored in every game and have found the net 12 times in four games at the Emirates.

Their visitors, Standard Liege, beat Guimaraes 2-0 in their opening game of the tournament, thanks to an own-goal and a late Paul-Jose M’Poku Ebunge strike. They currently sit second in the Jupiler League and were held 1-1 by Charleroi at the weekend. They are the joint top scorers in Belgium with 21 goals from nine games and have a potent strike force in Renaud Emond and Maxime Lestienne.

It is hard to see Arsenal not winning this, but Liege will carry a threat and goals are likely.

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