Manchester United have work to do after defeat to Feyenoord in Rotterdam, and although Kevin Hatchard suspects they will beat Zorya, they might not have everything their own way...
"Zorya have only failed to score in one game this season, and United have managed just two clean sheets in nine matches under Jose Mourinho."
Manchester United v Zorya
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It's been a tempestuous campaign so far for Manchester United, but there are those who would say it was never likely to be anything but with Jose Mourinho at the helm. It all started so well, but a humbling derby defeat to Manchester City at Old Trafford sparked a collapse which featured further defeats to Feyenoord and Watford.
Saturday's 4-1 win over Premier League champions Leicester City righted the ship somewhat, and now United hope to repair damage in this competition by achieving a similar result against Zorya, a team that even Mourinho admits he knows little about. A further failure on Thursday night would complicate United's efforts to reach the last 32, as tricky trips to Istanbul and Odesa await later in the schedule.
Henrikh Mkhitaryan has experience of facing Zorya from his time at Shakhtar Donetsk, but he is still out injured, and despite earlier reports to the contrary, Mourinho says Zlatan Ibrahimovic will play. Wayne Rooney is trying to shake off a back injury, but is likely to feature at some stage.
Zorya finished fourth in the Ukrainian top flight last term, effectively making them the 'best of the rest' after traditional powerhouses Dynamo Kiev, Shakhtar Donetsk and Dnipro. Coach Yuriy Vernydub has crafted a team that plays with pace, aggression and confidence, and they beat Dynamo 1-0 in Kiev less than a fortnight ago.
A decade ago Zorya were in the third tier of Ukrainian football, so they are enjoying every minute of this group-stage adventure. They were moments away from winning their opening game, only to concede a last-gasp equaliser in a 1-1 draw with Fenerbahce.
United are firm favourites at 1.182/11, which is prohibitively short. Although I expect Mourinho to field a strong line-up, Zorya are not the pushovers the markets are depicting them as, and even backing United -2.0 on the Asian Handicap only gives you a price of 1.875/6.
Both Teams To Score
Zorya have managed away wins against Dynamo and Shakhtar in the last five months, and they have scored at least twice in their last five Europa League away games. They have failed to score just once all season, and that 2-0 defeat at Dnipro remains their only loss of the campaign.
United haven't kept a clean sheet in any of their last five matches in all competitions, and over the course of the season they've managed just two shut-outs in nine games under Mourinho. Yes in the Both Teams To Score market is available at 2.6413/8, and I think that's the way to go.
Back Both Teams To Score at 2.6413/8
Kevin Hatchard 2016-17 Europa League P/L (1 pt per bet)
Points Staked: 7
Points Returned: 4.16
P/L: -2.84 points