Charlie Nicholas returns with his latest round of European predictions with Manchester United, Liverpool, Arsenal and Celtic all in action.
- Champions League fixtures
- Europa League fixtures
Manchester City vs Atalanta – Tuesday, 8pm
Pep Guardiola made so many changes at the weekend and Manchester City still got the job done. They were not outstanding but they took the hit to get the results of previous weeks out of their system. The vulnerable side is that they do not have any centre-backs, leaving Rodri and Fernandinho there for the Crystal Palace game.
It was a positive to see City register a clean sheet. Raheem Sterling is heavily involved, you can take your pick out of Bernardo Silva, David Silva or Riyad Mahrez, while Gabriel Jesus is scoring. He will probably make three or four changes again here but I expect them to win comfortably.
Jesus has responded when he hasn’t played, but so has Phil Foden. Give him some game time and get him involved. This can be the balance that gives him a starting place against Atalanta. It will be a comfortable night for City.
CHARLIE PREDICTS: 4-0 (11/1 with Sky Bet)
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Tottenham vs Red Star Belgrade – Tuesday 8pm
This is a must-win scenario. Tottenham were lucky against Watford as it was never a goal that Dele Alli scored. Mauricio Pochettino made seven changes – the most he has ever made – and he did not get a response.
Jan Vertonghen and Toby Alderweireld do not want to be there. They have not offered them a contract so they are just running them down. Danny Rose is the exact same – this whole situation is dysfunctional.
Heung-Min Son gives them guaranteed speed and drive, on and off the ball. He should always play alongside Harry Kane in my opinion. Red Star Belgrade will bring some decent support and be awkward, but Tottenham will get some anger out here.
CHARLIE PREDICTS: 3-0 (7/1 with Sky Bet)
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Ajax vs Chelsea – Wednesday, 5.55pm
These are always the same. Three players left Ajax, but they have real talent and are going well in the Eredivisie. Everybody is raving about Chelsea’s youngsters too – at the weekend I thought they would struggle against Newcastle.
People are quite rightly complimenting Tammy Abraham, Mason Mount and Callum Hudson-Odoi. At this age, they will go through a quiet spell, but does Frank Lampard keep them in during this or take them out for the Champions League?
- Lampard: Extra CL fixtures bad idea
- Ajax fans banned from Chelsea match
Ajax will look to have a lot of possession whereas Chelsea normally get that. They are a good counter-attack team but Ajax will cause them problems.
CHARLIE PREDICTS: 2-2 (11/1 with Sky Bet)
Genk vs Liverpool – Wednesday, 8pm
These are always potentially difficult. Jurgen Klopp does not have much chance to change things too much. If Mohamed Salah is close to being fit, I would leave him out and get him fit for the Tottenham game, which is another massive match.
- Liverpool, Man City, Celtic fined by UEFA
Liverpool are vulnerable at the back. Virgil van Dijk is the best centre-back in the Premier League, he has a superb partnership with Joel Matip and Alisson is back, but they make mistakes. If the opposition can squeeze the full-backs, Liverpool cannot get the service into the front men and it is easier to predict and defend – it does not have the same effect.
Do Genk defend as if it is an away game? A lack of experience will cost them in this one.
CHARLIE PREDICTS: 1-2 (17/2 with Sky Bet)
Partizan Belgrade vs Manchester United – Thursday, 5.55pm
This is another difficult game for Manchester United. It was a Jose Mourinho-style performance against Liverpool. I can never remember Manchester United, even when I have seen them on the back foot and having poor times, seeing them knock 50-60 yards to get five or six seconds breathing space. United nearly won ugly.
Anthony Martial is fit and I think he will start, while Marcus Rashford started, scored and played well against Liverpool. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will want to go to a back four, but their midfield cannot keep the ball. Scott McTominay and Fred are grafting but they cannot pass the ball. It is another awkward night for Manchester United, but 1-1 would be a decent result for them and that is saying something.
CHARLIE PREDICTS: 1-1 (5/1 with Sky Bet)
Slovan Bratislava vs Wolves – Thursday, 5.55pm
It is a difficult one to call. I watched Wolves at the weekend and they were pretty ordinary. It was their 18th game and there is another one on Thursday, Nuno Espirito Santo said. This is what the clubs have to do if they want to get into Europe.
- Wolves to play behind closed doors
He does not like changing the team very often and does not have the biggest group, but Wolves can go a long way and they will fancy their chances. They might have beat Man City but they struggle with the lesser teams. It will be interesting to see how this one shapes up.
CHARLIE PREDICTS: 1-1 (6/1 with Sky Bet)
Porto vs Rangers – Thursday, 5.55pm
Rangers are going well. They are scoring lots of goals, but are a bit frail defensively. James Tavernier is a bit weak defensively compared to what he is going forward. That does create its own problems. Rangers do not have the craft or knowledge to get through these games when they do not see a lot of the ball, so this is where they may come unstuck.
CHARLIE PREDICTS: 2-0 (6/1 with Sky Bet)
Arsenal vs Vitoria SC – Thursday, 8pm
It should be another night where Arsenal can make some changes. We need to see whether Hector Bellerin and Kieran Tierney will be back and I would hope that Emile Smith-Rowe could come in, as well as Joe Willock and Reiss Nelson.
Will he throw Mesut Ozil into this situation? I think Unai Emery knows Ozil is not training hard enough, so that is why he is not putting him in the team. He is still there so I would play him.
Alexandre Lacazette could make a return on Thursday and you could play Bukayo Saka down the middle and rest Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. If Rob Holding is fit, he should come in and play. It will be six or seven changes but I expect Arsenal to get the job done.
CHARLIE PREDICTS – 3-1 (10/1 with Sky Bet)
Celtic vs Lazio – Thursday, 8pm
It is a cracking game. Lazio are not one of the top names in terms of the Italian teams now and Celtic Park relishes these on European nights. Lazio are seventh in the Serie A but are tough defensively.