Man United Learn Europa Draw, Begin Crucial Slate of Matches

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The festive period is here, and with it fixture congestion, and Thursday night will see Manchester United visit Sheffield United, beginning a slate that sees six games in 17 days. Monday also learned their Europa League fate today, as they are drawn against Real Sociedad in the round of 32.

United enter this critical period five points off the pace for the top of the Premier League table with a game in hand. Saturday saw what might have truly been the worst Manchester Derby ever, at least from an entertainment value stand point, but manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said he was pleased with the result.

Now he turns his attention to a very critical stretch. His side, just like all the others, will now see an increased workload through the turn of the calendar into the new year.

“I think Christmas time with the amount of games in a short space of time there will be changes in positions,” said Solskjaer.

“We have a game less but it’s a big moment in the season, this time around Christmas, then get to new year, then you have a break with the FA Cup, maybe then we will have a clearer view of how it will look for us.

“Now we are looking at the Sheff United and Leeds United games.”

The games will keep coming in increments of three days apart. United will host Leeds on Sunday, three days after the trip to Sheffield, followed by a League Cup clash at Everton a week from Wednesday.

Solskjaer’s position is safe for the time being, but if United start to crumble, from the weight of the loaded fixture schedule, his job could be in jeopardy. Crashing out of the Champions League has significantly diminished his standing right now, but they are considered among the favorites to win the European consolation bracket.

Europa League Round of 32 Draw

Wolfsburger vs. Tottenham Hotspur

Dynamo Kiev vs. Club Brugge

Real Sociedad vs. Manchester United

uefa europa league

Benfica vs. Arsenal

Red Star Belgrade vs. AC Milan

Royal Antwerp vs. Rangers

Slavia Prague vs. Leicester City

FC Salzburg vs. Villarreal

Braga vs. AS Roma

Krasnodar vs. Dinamo Zagreb

Young Boys vs. Bayer Leverkusen

Molde vs. TSG Hoffenheim

Granada vs. Napoli

europa-league

Maccabi Tel Aviv vs. Shakhtar Donetsk

Lille vs. Ajax Amsterdam

Olympiakos vs. PSV Eindhoven

Paul M. Banks runs The Sports Bank, partnered with News NowBanks, the author of  “No, I Can’t Get You Free Tickets: Lessons Learned From a Life in the Sports Media Industry,” has regularly appeared in WGNSports IllustratedChicago Tribune and SB NationFollow him on Twitter and Instagram.

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