Watch UEFA Europa League on StarTimes
Arsenal and Leicester a win away from the knock-out stage
By Peter Auf der Heyde
Premier League clubs Arsenal and Leicester
City have a chance to advance to the knock-out stage of the Europa League this
Arsenal are away at Norwegian club Molde,
while Leicester City travel to Braga and both will be assured of advancing to
the next round with a victory on Thursday.
Arsenal, who were held to a goalless draw
at Leeds in the Premier League on Sunday, top Group B with nine points from
Molde who have six after their three games.
As the tie-breaker used in the competition
is – firstly - the head-to-head result between clubs equal on points, the
Gunners would be guaranteed a place in the knock-out should they return from
Norway with a win after beating Molde 4-1 on matchday three.
Leicester are in a very similar situation
to their London rivals. After winning 4-0 at home against Braga at the
beginning of the month, they know that a victory in Portugal will be see them
Their preparations for the game in Braga on
Thursday, however, was poor as they were beaten 3-0 by Liverpool in Sunday’s
late Premier League game.
Ironically, Tottenham Hotspur, who are
leading their domestic league and secured a morale-boosting 2-0 victory against
Manchester City on the weekend, need to do some work before they can make plans
for the knock-out stage.
A 1-0 defeat in Belgium against Antwerp on
matchday two sees Jose Mourinho’s team on six points in Group J, with Antwerp
and Austrian club LASK also on six points.
Victory at home against Ludogorets Razgrad
will be a major step towards the knockout stage, but will not be enough to
prematurely ensure Spurs a place in the next rounds.
Mourinho’s preparations for Thursday’s game
against the Bulgarian team suffered a blow in the victory against Manchester
City as centre-back Toby Alderweireld had to leave the field with nine minutes
to go after suffering an adductor injury.
The Belgian international could be out for
several weeks and as Joe Roden was signed after the Europa League squad was
nominated, Mourinho does not have an immediate back-up.
“It’s bad, it’s
bad. It’s a muscular injury. The dimension of course we don’t know, we have to
wait, but it’s a difficult injury for sure.
“In the Premier
League we have three centre-backs, in the Europa League we don’t have Joe
Rodon, we only have two, but that’s the way it is.
“We don’t have
anybody to blame. He played in the international matches that the team needed
to win to qualify for the final four (of the Nations League). With us he’s
playing so well we decided to play him rather than rest him.
to blame, just to recover as soon as possible,” Mourinho told journalists.
African football fans will be able to see
whom Mourinho picks to take Alderweireld’s place as the game will be broadcast
live and exclusive on the StarTimes football channels.
Peter Auf der Heyde
Peter Auf der Heyde is an award-winning
football journalist and author, who covers the big European leagues. As a South
African by birth, he is particularly interested in the African connection within
European football and has covered 12 consecutive Africa Cup of Nations
tournaments live. Formerly head of sport at the English service of the German
Press Association, he is one of the leading Bundesliga experts.
Auf der Heyde played professionally for
Bosmont Chelsea in the South African top flight and now spends his time
migrating between South Africa, Germany and the UK.