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Jose Mourinho was not best pleased after Manchester United’s first leg against Anderlecht. The Red Devils took just over half an hour to take the lead through Henrikh Mkhitaryan but were unable to hold onto the lead with the home side grabbing a late, late equaliser.
Most managers would despair at their defence losing concentration in the vital closing minutes but Mourinho turned his ire on his forwards. In fact, he claimed that his defence should be upset with the likes of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Jesse Lingard, Marcus Rashford and goalscorer Mkhitaryan who failed to take the chances that would have killed off the match.
Mourinho’s been a fan of the tough love approach recently and he was genuinely upset after the game. However, there’s no doubt that United are in a very strong position ahead of the second leg at Old Trafford. They’re the better side, have home advantage and a potential crucial away goal.
Those factors combine to make Mourinho’s men as short as 1/12 to qualify with some bookies. With the importance of the Europa League to United they surely won’t throw this opportunity away, will they?
Man Utd 2/7 (William Hill)
Draw 5/1 (Betfred)
Anderlecht 12/1 (Ladbrokes)
The Europa League is the only major UEFA competition that Manchester United haven’t won in their illustrious history. A major reason for that is that the club have perennially competed at the higher level of the Champions League. Times change however and United’s main focus now is getting back among the elite of European football.
Mourinho is not yet writing off his team’s chances of claiming a spot in the Premier League’s top four (as evidenced by their impressive win over Chelsea on Sunday) but the Champions League spot awarded to the winners of the Europa League seems more attainable. At a best price of 5/4 with Sky Bet, Man Utd are the bookies’ favourites to lift the trophy in Stockholm and much shorter to progress to the semi finals.
Anderlecht are not bereft of quality players (especially the highly sought after Youri Tielemans) but there is no question that United are the vastly superior side. Given that Mourinho rested some of his key players on the weekend, the home side should win with relative comfort.
So, don’t settle for the 2/7 you’ll get about United winning. Take a bit more risk and back them to win with a one goal handicap applied at a best price of 3/4 with Coral.
Man Utd 2-0 @ 5/1 (Coral)
Man Utd 1-0 @ 6/1 (Sky Bet)
Man Utd 3-0 @ 7/1 (Paddy Power)
Man Utd 2-1 @ 8/1 (Ladbrokes)
Draw 1-1 @ 10/1 (Coral)
Man Utd 3-1 @ 11/1 (William Hill)
The ease with which Man Utd are expected to win Thursday’s match is reflected in the shortest priced selections in the bookies’ Correct Score markets. The four shortest options each reflect a home win with the top three suggesting that they’ll win to nil. That’s certainly the route that we would suggest you go down.
Anderlecht were pretty fortunate to find the net against Man Utd in the first leg and they’ll find goals even more hard to come by in the second leg. Old Trafford is a daunting enough place for visiting teams without having to face a side who have lost just one of their last 18 games in all competitions.
Of the correct score options available to you, we like the look of Man Utd 3-0 which is a best price of 7/1 with Paddy Power.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic 9/4 (Sky Bet)
Marcus Rashford 15/4 (Bet365)
Wayne Rooney 9/2 (Bet365)
Anthony Martial 5/1 (William Hill)
Henrikh Mkhitaryan 5/1 (Paddy Power)
Paul Pogba 7/1 (Betfred)
Jesse Lingard 8/1 (Paddy Power)
Lukasz Teodorczyk 11/1 (Bet365)
With the possible exception of Wayne Rooney who has been struggling with injury in recent weeks, all of the Manchester United players towards the top of the First Goalscorer market have a very good chance of breaking the deadlock on Thursday night.
Against Chelsea, Mourinho decided to try and capitalise on the lack of pace in the opposition defence and asked his players to get Marcus Rashford in behind wherever possible. That approach paid off nice and early when Rashford pounced on a brilliant pass from Ander Herrera and kept his cool to slot past Asmir Begovic. United certainly have that style of play in their locker but they may need a different approach against Anderlecht.
Man Utd will have to craft chances and rely on their out-and-out finishing ability up front. In that respect, it’s hard to look past Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s chances of scoring first at 9/4 with Sky Bet given the way that he’s grasped opportunity in big matches already this season.
Man Utd -1 goal handicap at 3/4 with Coral
Zlatan Ibrahimovic to score first at 9/4 with Sky Bet