Premier League clubs Arsenal and Leicester City can take a major step towards the knock-out stage of the Europa League this week as the competition enters its third match day.
The Gunners top Group B with six points from their opening two matches and are at home against Molde on Thursday. The Norwegian club also won their opening two matches and the winner will all but have guaranteed their place in the next round.
Mikel Arteta’sside go into the game against the Norwegian champions on the back of a morale-boosting league victory at Old Trafford against Manchester United.
The only goal of the game was scored by Gabonese international Pierre EmerickAubameyang, who also got his name on the score-sheet in Arsenal’s first Europa League match – a 2-1 comeback win in Austria against Rapid Wien.
Like Arsenal, Leicester City have a maximum six points in their group and the Foxes have a similarly big opportunity this week as they face second-placed Braga in Group G.
The Portuguese club have also won both games so far in the Europe League and a win for either side will see them take a giant step towards the next round.
For Jose Mourinho’sTottenham Hotspur side Thursday’s Group J game at Bulgarian club Ludogorets Razgrad is filled with the pressure of having to avoid a second consecutive defeat after the London-based club was beaten 1-0 in Antwerp during the last matchday.
There was some good news for Mourinho on the weekend though, as Gareth Bale scored his first goal for the club since returning to London from Real Madrid.
Spurs beat Brighton 2-1 in the league on Sunday to move to second behind the defending champions Liverpool.
Mourinho has been able to call on star-attacking players Son Heung min and Harry Kane so far this season and with Bale now getting his name on the score-sheet as well, every club facing Spurs will be aware that it is unlikely that they will play 90 minutes without conceding a goal.
With so much at stake for some of Europe’s leading clubs in the Europe League, African football fans will be keen to watch the action.
They can do so on the StarTimes channels as Africa’s leading digital-TV operator is showing all the best action from the competition – live and exclusive for African football fans.
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.