Europa League preview: Arsenal, Wolves look to seal knockout berths

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Arsenal and Wolves look to clinch places in the knockout rounds on Thursday, while Manchester United can win its group with a point and help on the out-of-town scoreboard.

The Gunners would prefer a win when Eintracht Frankfurt visits for any number of reasons. They’re winless in six-straight matches across all competitions, collecting four draws.

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Arsenal will win the group with a win, its 10 points four more than both Eintracht and Standard Liege, but again… it just needs to make something good happen in front of its home support.

It’s been so bad that under fire Gunners boss Unai Emery is being quizzed on whether this time is the toughest in his 15-year managerial career.

From Arsenal.com:

“As a coach, each moment in my career is difficult. It’s a very good job, but it’s very hard. When you are winning, you feel the support from everybody, but when you’re not winning like in the last matches, you have some doubters. Really, I believe in us, the players, the group. I know I am going to work very hard to come back with this performance and take the confidence we need now. Each match is a very good opportunity The good and bad moments come and go, but the most important thing for me is to show my work and our capacity. Each match is a good opportunity to do that. Most importantly it’s to connect with the supporters. They need to back and help the players tomorrow in each moment.”

Granit Xhaka could return for the Gunners, his first appearance since being booed off the pitch and reacting with vigor.

Emery’s fate is now impacting Wolves ahead of their match against Braga, as Arsenal is being linked with manager Nuno Espirito Santo as a replacement for the beleaguered Spaniard.

Rui Patricio isn’t having it.

“It’s very important to keep Nuno at the club, not only for the players but for the club as well,” said Patricio. “For the club to develop and become greater it’s not just about the coach but also good staff behind the scenes. We have to work hard as a team and staff. Stability is important at any club. Nuno is an outstanding coach and he’s also a leader.”

Wolves need a win to guarantee advancement, though they meet last place Besiktas on the final match day.

Meanwhile, United already has a two-point lead on AZ Alkmaar for Group L ahead of Thursday’s early morning match at Astana (10:50 a.m. ET).

The Wolves match is at 12:55 p.m., while Arsenal kicks off at 3 p.m.

[ MORE: Full Europa League schedule ]