Anderlecht v Man Utd: Mourinho’s men hold plenty of appeal

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WILLIE Duncan (@Willie_Duncan) takes up the controls as Manchester United travel to Belgium to face Anderlecht on Thursday night.

Anderlecht v Manchester United | Thursday 20:05 | BT Sport

Jose Mourinho’s side are hunting Europa League glory and Manchester United’s latest assignment sees them travel to Belgium to face Anderlecht.

The Belgian league leaders have certainly put together a decent run of form ahead of this fixture; Rene Weiler’s charges have lost just one of their last 16 matches on home soil – a 3-2 defeat against Saint-Etienne at the group stages of this competition.

Furthermore, Anderlecht have kept a clean sheet in six of their last seven home games.

Cause for Anderlecht concern

The fact, though, that the Belgian league leaders shipped three on their own patch against Saint-Etienne must surely give cause for concern.

The Ligue 1 side barely laid a glove on Manchester United when the two teams met in the last 32, with Mourinho’s side romping to a supremely comfortable 4-0 aggregate win.

United are fighting for the top-four on the domestic front and they swept past Sunderland on Sunday, winning 3-0 against David Moyes’ beleaguered Black Cats – a result that brought relief to a United side that has struggled to get results in recent weeks.

United eye Europa success

In normal circumstances, United may have had one eye on Sunday’s showdown with table-toppers Chelsea at Old Trafford but Mourinho has identified success on this stage as a very viable route back into the Champions League for United.

A polished, professional performance, then, can be expected from the Premier League side and, given that they are huge odds-on to qualify for the semi-final stage of the competition, it is somewhat surprising to see the men from Manchester available at such a seemingly generous price here.

Anderlecht will feel that they are capable of making their mark; after all, they are the second highest-scoring side left in the competition, having chalked up 21 goals en route to their first major European quarter-final clash in 20 years.

Red Devils deserve our backing

United, though, are rock solid; they boast the most impressive defensive record of the teams still standing in the competition, a record which is due in no small part to the fact that Mourinho’s side have conceded just once in their last six Europa League ties.

A match against Manchester United looks likely to be a bridge too far for the Belgians and, given the chasm in quality between the teams, backing Mourinho’s men at evens (William Hill) to take a first-leg lead could offer punters a path to profit.

Best Bets

Anderlecht v Manchester United – Manchester United to win (1/1 William Hill)

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Willie is a freelance sports writer, specialising in Scottish football. He has covered Scottish football for more than a decade, working for a variety of betting organisations and media outlets. Away from betting, Edinburgh-born Willie enjoys nothing more than watching his beloved Hearts in action.

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