Manchester United are currently the favourites to win the Europa League ahead of Arsenal and Tottenham.
That is according to website FiveThirtyEight, as the Red Devils have been backed to lift the trophy for the second time in four years with a 36% probability of reaching the final and a 23% probability of emerging victorious.
Arsenal, who will face Olympiacos over two legs at the round of 16 stage, are actually installed as second favourites with Spurs seen as fifth favourites despite having the somewhat easier tie against Dinamo Zagreb.
However, Man United legend Gary Neville has noticed something rather concerncing about his former club that could hand the north London duo a major advantage.
“They looked worn, I have to say. We know the fans aren’t in the stadium, we know there’s been a lot of football, but they did really look lethargic tonight and well off it,” Neville said on Sky Sports after United’s goalless draw against Crystal Palace. “The body language looked really drained.
“I thought that progress had been made in the last few weeks in the sense that they would cement that second-place by picking up points at places like Crystal Palace. Obviously, Sheffield United at home and West Brom, but they’re now making it really hard for themselves.
“They’re sleepwalking in games, they’re thinking they’re okay, they’ll get a goal because many times this season they’ve played badly in first-halves of matches and then won it in the second-half.
“But now it’s not happening for them and you’ve got to have performance, you will get results sometimes when you play badly but eventually it will catch you out.
“So they’ve just got to be careful, they’ve got to be more alert to what’s happening because they are going to end up in a top four race if they’re not careful.
“I think they were in a position a few weeks ago to have a comfortable run-in for the rest of the season, they weren’t going to win the league, but they really could have cemented the second-place and made it easy for themselves.”
Winning the Europa League is arguably Arsenal and Spurs’ best chance of gaining entry to next season’s Champions League – although Jose Mourinho‘s side are only five points off the top-four and have a game in hand.
But to Neville’s point, if United are showing signs of fatigue coupled with possibly needing to focus on ensuring a top-four finish, it could prompt Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to rest his key players in the Europa League.
This prospect can only serve as a boost to the north London duo in their respective quest to end the season with a piece of silverware.