BY STEVEN WYSON
Manchester United and Arsenal – who have both endured stuttering starts to the league season – are in Europa League action on Thursday night.
Michael Owen has tipped former team Manchester United to suffer a shock Europa League defeat on Thursday – but reckons Arsenal will be too strong for Standard Liege.
Manchester United will bid for back-to-back Europa League wins in Holland against AZ Alkmaar but they will have to do so without star man Paul Pogba.
The Frenchman has not travelled for United’s Europa League clash following specialist advice about a foot injury and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s concerns about “one of the worst” plastic pitches he has seen.
And Owen, who won the 2010/11 Premier League title with the Red Devils, expects Solskjaer’s men to endure a tough evening in Holland.
“AZ Alkmaar sit third in the Eredivisie table, just one point behind Ajax and PSV Eindhoven and I expect the hosts to keep all three points even though United are unbeaten in their last 12 Europa League ties (W9 D3),” he told Bet Victor.
“Do note the game is being played on an artificial surface at the ground of Den Haag in The Hague with Alkmaar’s ground unavailable after the roof at their own AFAS Stadium collapsed last month.
“United struggled to beat Astana in their opening tie and have made their worst start to a league season since 1989-90 with just nine points from their opening seven games.”
The Premier League legend, however, thinks Arsenal will make light work of Standard Liege when the Belgians visit the Emirates.
He added: “Standard Liege have never won on the road in European competition against English opposition (L6 D1) and I don’t expect the Belgian side to buck that trend at the Emirates.
“Arsenal reached the final of the competition last season and their 3-0 win in Frankfurt on the opening day was one of the performances of the night.
“The Gunners have won all four previous games against Les Rouches and I see no reason why they will not make it five this week.”