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Milan eyeing Europa League progression, Arsenal target top spot

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theo walcott2There's still plenty to play for in the Europa League, with just five teams securing their places in the round of 32 so far.

Steaua Bucharest, Dynamo Kiev, Arsenal, Lazio and Zenit St Petersburg are definitely through to the next stage, while the likes of Villarreal, AC Milan and Marseille are amongst the teams still aiming to qualify.

Milan host Austria Vienna on Thursday knowing that a win would send them through. The Serie A side won 5-1 in Austria earlier in the group stage and are priced at 2/7 to record another victory.

Villarreal can also progress if they can defeat Astana in Kazakhstan. The Spanish side recorded a 3-1 victory at home and are fancied at 11/8 to complete the double this week.

Marseille could find themselves in a spot of bother if they lose at Konyaspor. The French outfit are currently second in their group behind Red Bull Salzburg, but they are only two points ahead of Thursday's opponents and Vitoria SC.

A draw would probably suit Marseille, especially with a home game against Salzburg still to come, and that can be backed at 12/5.

Arsenal's place in the Europa League knockout stage is already guaranteed, although they'll be keen to secure top spot in Group H.

The Gunners are currently 6/1 favourites to win the tournament and all the Europa League outright odds can be seen here ahead of this week's action.

Arsene Wenger must decide whether to risk Theo Walcott and Olivier Giroud for the game, especially with Danny Welbeck back in contention after injury.

The former United forward is 8/5 to score at any time during the match and that could be worth an interest.

Cologne, who are bottom of the Bundesliga after a 1-0 defeat at Mainz on Sunday, will be without vice-captain Jonas Hector due to a knee injury.

Arsenal beat the German side 3-1 at the Emirates Stadium back in September and are available at 18/1 to match that feat on Thursday.

Group J is undoubtedly the tightest of all the groups heading into the fifth round of games, with just three points separating the four sides.

Swedish minnows Ostersund will go through if they beat Zorya Luhansk, but both Athletic Bilbao and Hertha Berlin are still in with a chance of progressing.

Group F is also tight, with FC Copenhagen, FC Sheriff and Lokomotiv Moscow battling for the two qualifying spots. Sheriff will go through if they beat FC Zlin and Lokomotiv fail to beat Sheriff.

A victory for Ludogorets over Basaksehir would send them through from Group C, while Braga will also progress if they beat Hoffenheim.

Three points for the German side would keep their hopes of qualification alive and they can be backed at 6/5 to record a victory in Portugal.

Other teams likely to secure qualification to the round of 32 include Partizan Belgrade, Lyon, Atalanta, Viktoria Plzen and Real Sociedad.

Arguably the biggest casualty of the group stage is Everton, with the Premier League side picking up just a point from their four games to date.

The Toffees host Atalanta on Thursday with nothing to play for but pride, although caretaker boss David Unsworth will be eager for his side to produce a performance that enhances his claims to be handed control on a permanent basis.

Everton are 21/10 to beat the Serie A side and avenge their 3-0 defeat in Italy earlier in the tournament.

Atalanta haven't won in their last four games in all competitions and although Everton have also been struggling for form Thursday's game is the ideal opportunity to give their fans something to cheer about.

File Photograph Copyright: Ryu Voelkel

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