Europa League preview: Solskjaer slams turf in Netherlands; Emery seeks win

Photo by Matthew Peters/Manchester United via Getty Images
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Tough road tests await Manchester United and Wolves, while Arsenal stays home for Thursday’s round of Europa League matches.

Having thumped Eintracht Frankfurt in Germany, the Gunners can deliver themselves control of the group by defeating Standard Liege.

[ MORE: Full Europa League schedule ]

That won’t be as easy as it sounds, even at the Emirates Stadium, because Standard enters the match on a five-match unbeaten streak.

Unai Emery just wants a win.

“With a good performance, with good pieces, with also controlling the match and with good positioning on the pitch for good pressing against them,” Emery said. “Tomorrow, we need that. Also, a clean sheet is important. Yes, it’s important. But I think it’s one process, to be strong, to be competitive defensively and offensively. I think we are getting better little by little, but each match is a big challenge for us to show how we are improving as a team. But above all is to win.”

Standard is led by 23-year-old midfielder Samuel Bastien and 21-year-old goalkeeper Arnaud Bodart, the latter of whom has only allowed seven goals in nine appearances this year.

The Gunners drew Manchester United 1-1 on Monday, a result which cast even more doubt on Ole Gunnar Solskjaer‘s ability to generate consistent performances from the Old Trafford set.

The Red Devils face AZ Alkmaar in the Netherlands, and AZ is young and fierce. Nineteen-year-old defender Owen Wijnald is one of several green players chewing up big minutes for the side.

They could well face an almost as young United on Thursday, with Paul Pogba unable to play with an ankle injury. And Solskjaer said he might’ve not played Pogba if he was healthy due to the state of the pitch at ADO Den Haag, where AZ is playing while its stadium is repaired.

“It’s one of the worst ones I’ve seen for a long while, we’ve all got standards back home in Norway and they are all modern and new but it’s safe, I’m not saying that… it’s just not the newest.”

Watch out for Oussama Idrissi, who has six goals this season, as well as 18-year-old Myron Boadu. The teen has four goals and three assists in 624 Eredivisie minutes.

Wolves have the toughest test of the Premier League sides in the Europa League, and they’ll face Besiktas in Turkey.

Both Wolves and their hosts lost their opening group stage matches, so the stage is set for some drama in Istanbul.

Wolves’ defender Conor Coady said the team will be buoyed by its weekend win over Watford, its first this season in the Premier League.

“Saturday was huge for us,” he said. “Not necessarily the result, but the way we played, we looked a little bit more like ourselves. We haven’t really panicked to much about the start of the season because we know it’s early but it was good, and the clean sheet was massive.”

Wolves and Manchester United play their matches at 12:55 p.m. ET, while Arsenal will kickoff at 3 p.m.