With Tottenham, Swansea City and Wigan Athletic all looking to build on their solid opening round matches, we take a look at this week's UEFA Europa League action and predict the scores in all 24 games on Matchday 2.
Anzhi Makhachkala vs. Tottenham
An in-form Spurs side travel to Dagestan in southwest Russia to take on an Anzhi team that have had a turbulent start to the season.
Backed by the billions of Suleyman Kerimov, Anzhi turned to big-money transfers and outrageously high wages to lure some of the world’s best to Russia in recent years.
Former Manchester United man Rene Meulensteen took over from Guus Hiddink as manager at the start of this campaign, but there were signs of trouble when the Dutchman was shown the exit door after less than three weeks in charge.
Kerimov had decided to rein in his free-flowing spending at the club, so their big names were sold off—including Willian and Samuel Eto’o—and "The Anzhi Project" was no more.
The club now sit rock bottom in their domestic league with six draws and five defeats from 11 matches, and it won’t get any easier for them with the arrival of Tottenham on Thursday.
Andre Villas-Boas’ side come into the game off the back of a draw with Chelsea at the weekend. His new charges are beginning to work in tandem with one another after numerous big-name signings came through the door over the summer.
Christian Eriksen has been key since his arrival. Spurs looked solid in their 1-0 defeat to Arsenal at the beginning of the season, but the lack of a creative midfielder to link up with Roberto Soldado was evident.
Eriksen has provided the magic dust to what was a great summer in the transfer window for the North London outfit. He has acted as provider for a number of Spurs’ goals, and he got on the scoresheet in their 3-0 win over Tromso on Matchday 1.
Expect Spurs to produce more of the same against Anzhi, who drew 0-0 with Sheriff in their opening game, and extend their lead at the top of Group K.
Our Prediction: Anzhi 0-1 Tottenham
Swansea City vs. St Gallen
Europa League debutants Swansea City looked more like veterans of European competition as they swept past Valencia 3-0 at the Mestalla Stadium on Matchday 1.
The home side did have a man sent off after 10 minutes, but that didn’t take the gloss off Swansea’s clinical performance as they completed 715 passes and dominated with 69 percent of possession.
Swiss side St Gallen have had an up-and-down start to the season and will struggle to take anything from the game in Swansea.
While three draws and two defeats in nine Super League matches have blotched their early-season formbook, the team from east Switzerland have looked solid at the back.
Their defence has conceded just nine goals in the league and shut out Kuban 2-0 in their opening Group A encounter.
Swansea will have to be at their fluid best to go clear at the top of the group, but with a vocal home support behind them it’s hard to envision anything but three points for Michael Laudrup’s side.
Our Prediction: Swansea 2 St Gallen 1
Wigan Athletic vs. NK Maribor
The DW Stadium will host European football for the first time on Thursday night as Wigan entertain NK Maribor.
The Slovenian side went down 5-2 at home to Rubin Kazan in their opening game in Group D, but the score wasn’t a fair reflection on the game. While chasing an equaliser, Maribor shipped two goals in injury time.
Wigan opened up their campaign with a goalless draw away to Zulte Waregem and have struggled for goals this season.
The FA Cup holders have failed to score in six of their 11 matches, including a 1-0 defeat to Watford at the weekend, and currently sit 15th in the Sky Bet Championship table with just three wins from eight matches.
Shaun Maloney leads the scoring for his team with three goals in the league. The home side will look to the Scottish international and Grant Holt for their goals against Maribor.
Our Prediction: Wigan 1 Maribor 1