Ajax v Man Utd: Win for Sir Alex as he avoids big shuffle

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Manchester United’s odds are 5/6 to win the first leg of their Europa League clash with Ajax and this looks a good price given that it will be a further ten days until their next domestic encounter.

Punters may be reluctant to back the Red Devils without seeing their team sheet, as there is every likelihood that Sir Alex Ferguson will utilise his squad depth as the Premier League takes over as chief priority.

Although Sir Alex would probably rather be elsewhere on a Thursday evening, the delay until their next league game should enable Manchester United to return to Old Trafford with an advantage in their last-32 encounter.

The draw is on offer at 5/2 but only one of United’s previous 15 matches in league and cup has ended all square.

Ajax, available at a potentially lucrative 10/3 in the Europa League odds, currently sit sixth in the Eredivisie, eight points off the pace and welcome United to the Amsterdam Arena on the back of some indifferent league form.

The Dutch giants have taken just four points from a possible 12 in recent weeks and have won only four of nine home league games this season.

Frank de Boer’s side were desperately unfortunate to miss out on a place in the last 16 of this year’s Champions League, after Lyon’s improbable 7-1 win in Zagreb condemned them to a Europa League place.

They enjoyed a comprehensive 5-0 aggregate win over Anderlecht at this stage of the competition last season, before going on to lose to Spartak Moscow in the next round.

Their main goal threat will come in the form of Serbian striker Miralem Sulejmani, who is 8/1 to be first goalscorer. But although the 23-year-old has 12 goals to his name this season, he has struck just once in his last seven appearances.

Assuming Sir Alex will shuffle his pack a little, Javier Hernandez is good value to strike first at 9/2, having netted in his last two outings.

Elsewhere, all but one of Manchester United’s last 11 contests in all competitions has seen over 2.5 goals and so odds of 15/8 for an away win with three or more goals scored in the match could be inviting.

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Craig Kemp

Craig has written for Ladbrokes since the 2010 World Cup, having previously gained a Media & Sports Journalism degree and contributed to publications including the Racing Post. His main areas of interest are horse racing and UFC, but he is also an avid X Factor gambler and likes nothing more than indulging in a spot of Hip Hop Karaoke.