Manchester United remain very much in the hunt for a Champions League berth at the end of the season and with just four points and a game-in-hand between themselves and arch-rivals Manchester City, it would take a brave man to bet against them in this regard. The Red Devils nevertheless have another chance to close in on next season’s Champions League in the form of this season’s Europa League and this tournament gives United another opportunity to add some silverware to the trophy cabinet at Old Trafford.
“It is the only chance we have to win one more trophy,” United boss Jose Mourinho said to reporters. “It is as difficult as finishing fourth, but it is the only competition that we can win now, so we have to fight for that. I don’t want our club to be just happy fighting for top four and Champions League. I want us fighting for trophies. We don’t hide that we are still fighting for our situation in the Premier League but the Europa League becomes a fundamental competition for us.”
United cruised through the knockout stages to a degree as well as the last 32 stage although they were made to work hard in the last-sixteen clash with Rostov, the Russians holding them to a 1-1 draw away from home before the Red Devils scored a late goal in the 70th minute of the return leg at Old Trafford to set the side up with a clash against Anderlecht.
The Red Devils are unsurprisingly favourites to make it through this two-legged affair and into the semi-finals and despite returning some unconvincing performances of late we believe that they will return home with the spoils in the bag. United thrashed Sunderland 3-0 in their last outing and their away form has been decent enough, therefore we fancy their chances in Belgium on Thursday evening.
Nevertheless while United found the back of the net three times in two of their last four outings, they are nevertheless pretty lacklustre on the goalscoring front with all-but-one of their previous Europa League games returning two goals at most. As such we expect another low-scoring affair that sees less than 2.5 goals in total.