Tuesday 21 November 2017

'United's best chance of qualifying for the Champions League is to field a full side against Arsenal' - The Punter's Platform

Jose Mourinho, Manager of Manchester United (C) and his backroom staff await kick off during the Premier League match between Manchester City and Manchester United at Etihad Stadium on April 27, 2017 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
Jose Mourinho, Manager of Manchester United (C) and his backroom staff await kick off during the Premier League match between Manchester City and Manchester United at Etihad Stadium on April 27, 2017 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

Manchester United will head to the Emirates on Sunday to take on Arsenal with both sides fighting for a top-four finish and qualification for next season's Champions League.

United trail fourth-placed Manchester City by just one point on 65 points, while Arsenal sit just one spot behind Jose Mourinho's side on 60 points, with a game in hand.

Arsenal will realistically need a win to stand any chance of finishing in the top four and qualifying for the Champions League, while United could technically finish in fifth place or lower, and still qualify for next year's tournament should they win the Europa League.

The Red Devils currently lead Celta Vigo 1-0 on aggregate in their Europa League semi-final tie after a Marcus Rashford free-kick proved the difference in the first leg in Pontevedra, with the return leg at Old Trafford just four days after their trip to north London to meet Arsenal.

The relatively short space of time between fixtures has led to much conjecture as to whether or not United should play a full strength team against the Gunners on Sunday, or whether they should rest some players for the return leg against Celta Vigo next Thursday.

Our panelists on the Independent.ie's new betting podcast The Punter's Platform discuss what United's best route back to the Champions League is; with LearnBetWin.com's Declan Meagher insisting that United's best chance of qualification is to field a full strength side on Sunday.

"United still really have a good chance of finishing in the top four in the Premiership," said Meagher.

"[Mourinho] He would be foolish to throw it away and bank on the Europa League, which English teams don't exactly have much of a record in."

"I don't get this!," added host Johnny Ward.

"They're one [point] behind City and five ahead of Arsenal who have a game in hand. The best chance they have of making the Champions League is to field a full side on Sunday."

United have won just twice this season against top six opposition with last month's win over Chelsea, and December's 1-0 win over Spurs, their only victories this season over the Premier League's upper echelon.

Mourinho's charges have picked up just 10 out of a possible 24 points in eight games against top six sides, which leads many to believe that the Europa League is a much more realistic path to the Champions League, especially with Arsenal and Tottenham still to play.

The Sunday World's John Brennan argues that United should field a couple of younger players against Arsenal on Sunday and that the club should place their full focus on the second-leg against Celta Vigo next week.

"I disagree," said Brennan in response to Meagher.

"They will beat Celta Vigo on Thursday night and they're in the final, a one-off game against Ajax who are not exactly Real Madrid!"

"I think United will win the Europa League and I think Mourinho will concentrate on it. He may not put out a completely weakened team, he may put out four or five kids, but I think he's also looking at the fact that Manchester United have to go to Spurs next weekend.

"He's probably looked at that and said 'Spurs are in the running for the the title, forget that'."

The Punter's Platform is in association with Ladbrokes and please gamble responsibly.

To listen to the podcast you can do so below. Head to the 14:00 mark for the discussion on Manchester United.

Online Editors

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