FRIDAY’S BIG STORIES

Still favourites?

Manchester United were favourites for the Europa League before Thursday night’s action, but they have slipped down the pecking order after AC Milan struck late to record a 1-1 draw at Old Trafford.
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Harry Maguire’s miss or Dean Henderson’s flappy-handed-save-when-he-should-have-just-stood-there. What to talk about first?
Perhaps it really should be Amad Diallo opening his account his United in superbly improvised fashion, and because that came after Maguire shinned it from about zero yards out, it’s probably Henderson’s attempted save at the death from what turned out to be Simon Kjaer's equaliser which is the more glaring moment – one that could come back to haunt United.
It’s not his first mistake for United, probably won’t be his last, but it’s another reminder for him that the spotlight is scalding when you’re the Manchester United goalkeeper, with errors accentuated due to their potential significance.
"I've seen him [Henderson] save them," Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said afterwards, "but it's the structure that we lose. We dropped too deep and we get blocked off and they get the header on.
"We should have attacked the ball with the men we had there."
To Milan, then, with a finely poised tie on the horizon – come through that and United could just get their favourites tag back from…

'Disappointed' Solskjaer bemoans United 'dropping too deep'

The New Favourites

Step forward the new Europa League favourites: Tottenham Hotspur. When you have Harry Kane, you’re going to be in contention, and they’ve also got that bloke who has won a few European trophies in his time. That’ll help, but back to Kane.
The one-season wonder now has 26 goals and 16 assists to his name already this season. He has surpassed his goal tallies of the previous two campaigns, is firing on all cylinders ahead of the north London derby on Sunday, and what in Tanguy’s name is that thing on his knee?
Asked if Kane will be fit for the Arsenal match, Jose Mourinho said: “I hope so and I believe so. You know, it’s a big match. I think only a big problem would stop him from being there, which I don’t think it is. Let’s see the reaction tomorrow but hopefully he’ll be fine.”
I guess we know how this plays out next? Mourinho says he’s out and then he miraculously turns up on Sunday? We’ve clocked you this time, Jose.

'We did not kill the tie' - Mourinho on Tottenham win over Zagreb

Should These Guys Be Favourites?

The Warm-Up has gone all in on the Europa League, and next let’s take a wild ride with the roller-coaster that is Arsenal Football Club – third favourites for the Europa League.
A Martin Odegaard bolt from the blue has you thinking they’re on their way to a routine win, but it wouldn’t be Arsenal at the moment without a sloppy error creeping in to make things interesting.
Nevertheless, on another night of 'let’s roll the dice' with Arsenal, it was the forwards who came up trumps. Well, a defender and a midfielder to be precise, with Gabriel and Mohamed Elneny giving the Gunners a healthy two-goal advantage heading into next week’s return leg, which is still surprisingly scheduled for the Emirates and will likely get changed to another match at the Karaiskakis Stadium in due course.
Roll on the derby.

Arteta demands a 'ruthless' Arsenal despite win at Olympiacos

IN OTHER NEWS

Ronaldo to PSG – what, as well?

You heard it here first. Well, kind of. It’s out there on the social-media-sphere because French outlet Le Parisien have, rather poetically, reported that PSG have “reopened the file” on the prospect of signing Cristiano Ronaldo. The same PSG tracking Lionel Messi’s movements too.
So, they’re both going to Paris? Well, it’s not entirely clear, but it seems if Kylian Mbappe leaves then PSG would like to pursue Ronaldo, while also cherishing the idea of signing Messi. But not both, it seems. Maybe. We’re not sure.

'The Cristiano Ronaldo experiment has failed for Juventus'

IN THE CHANNELS

On a night of stunning strikes, stunning misses, stunning something or others, here’s a stunning save from Rangers goalkeeper Allan McGregor.
And a stunning post-match analysis of his own stop to boot: "A wee bit late. It's just one of these things. You react to it, see it, stick your hand out, hope it doesn't go in and it never. Happy days!"

HAT-TIP

The club’s name is synonymous with idiocy in Africa’s most populous nation. How on earth did this happen?
“The unlikely story of how 'Dundee United' became an insult in Nigeria” – if that doesn’t grab you, what will? Liam Kirkaldy for Nutmeg magazine, published on the Guardian.

COMING UP

It’s a day ending in -y so there’s some football on this evening. Newcastle host Aston Villa in the Premier League, kicking off a weekend of action which includes the north London derby between Tottenham and Arsenal on Sunday.
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