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Manchester United & Arsenal Still Top Europa League Favorites After Group Stage Matchday 1

Gary Gowers

by Gary Gowers in Soccer News

Updated Apr 7, 2020 · 2:52 PM UTC

Unai Emery
Arsenal manager Unai Emery's job is under threat after a poor run of form in the EPL, but his team still top Europa League F. Photo by Aleksandr Osipov (Wiki Commons) [CC License]
  • Europa League Round One is done
  • Man Utd struggled in their opener, while Arsenal ease past Eintracht Frankfurt
  • See the latest Europa League odds below

The first round of group games in the new Europa League season was completed last Thursday night, and Manchester United and Arsenal still lead the betting.

It wasn’t plain sailing though and United struggled to get past Kazakhstani opponents at Old Trafford, while Arsenal’s 3-0 win in Germany was not as emphatic as it sounds.

2019/20 UEFA Europa  League Odds

Team Odds
Manchester United +550
Arsenal +550
Sevilla +1200
Roma +2000
Wolverhampton Wanderers +2500
Lazio +2500
Wolfsburg +3300
FC Porto +4000
PSV Eindhoven +4000
Borussia Monchengladbach +5000

*Odds taken 9/23/19. 

As a result, United’s average Europa League odds slightly worsened, from +500 on August 30 to +530, while the Gunners’ shortened slightly from +650 to +550.

The question is, did either inspire enough confidence to still be a good bet to win the whole competition? Or is there better value elsewhere? We’ll take a closer look.

Ole’s Struggle

Manchester United’s 1-0 win over Astana was vital in terms of getting their campaign off to a flying start but the performance itself was underwhelming and it took until the 73rd minute for them to finally make the breakthrough.

In the end, it took a goal from 17-year-old Mason Greenwood to decide it, one of a whole host of youngsters and fringe players who manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer included in his starting line-up, which had only two players in it who started last weekend’s EPL game – Nemanja Matic and Marcus Rashford.

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Solskjaer is clearly going to use this competition to groom youngsters and give game time to those not in his EPL starting XI – something well worth noting by those thinking of having a punt on United – and so in some ways, a disjointed performance was not unexpected. The Norwegian will be hoping they gel over time, but more performances like Thursday night and they’ll be losing their joint-favorites tag.

Right now, +550 doesn’t appear particularly generous.

Unai’s Delight

By contrast, Arsenal’s 3-0 away win at Eintracht Frankfurt was, on the surface at least, a fine result against quality opposition. English teams notoriously have a tough time on German soil, so for the Gunners to emerge with such an emphatic victory was outstanding, although it was a scoreline that flattered them.

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Manager Unai Emery will have been very happy with the result, but he’ll have been less pleased with the number of goalscoring chances that Arsenal permitted their opponents. It’s an issue that badly needed addressing in the summer and one that, judging by last Thursday night’s game, is still to be rectified.

Gunners’ Late Late Show

Worth noting too is that two of Arsenal’s three goals came in the closing minutes when Frankfurt were down to ten men after Dominik Kohr’s red card for two bookable offenses. The stats show the Germans had more attempts, more shots on target and more possession. The Gunners were grateful to keeper Emiliano Martinez who made a string of fine saves to keep a clean sheet.

So, let’s not be fooled by the scoreline. Yes, it was a great start for Arsenal but it also papered over a few cracks, and they, like United, have plenty left to do to justify their favorite status.

But, and it’s a big but, Emery has history in this competition of the good kind. When in charge of Sevilla he won the competition on three consecutive occasions and no manager has won more Europa League games than him.

Interestingly, as things stand, it’s none other than Sevilla who at +1200 look to offer the value. They had a cracking start away at Qarabag, where they won 3-0. Also, both of the Rome clubs – Roma and Lazio – are worth considering at +2000 and +2500 respectively, even taking into account Lazio’s losing start.

My pick: Sevilla to win the Europa League (+1200)

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