24th October 2012
Even if Brendan Rodgers ever thought about fielding a strong side for the crunch tie against Anzhi, the prospect of facing Everton in Merseyside derby on Sunday will ensure he opts for a second-string team. That is likely to give an advantage to the Russians, who appear to be on top of their game at the moment.
Brendan Rodgers knew too well that Premier League campaign would always be a priority for Liverpool, so nobody was really surprised to see the talented manager rest his star players in Europa League games. However, the European clashes have served its purpose as they helped the likes of Sterling, Suro and Wisdom become genuine first team regulars, so there is absolutely no chance that Rodgers will change his approach for the Anzhi game, especially with the Merseyside derby due just three days later. The manager’s options have been limited by injuries to Fabio Borini, Martin Kelly and Pepe Reina, while Lucas Leiva remains a long-term casualty. This will, however, be an opportunity for fringe players Jose Enrique, Stewart Downing, Jonjo Shelvey and Jordan Henderson to impress, but it remains to be seen whether they will have the right mental approach, given they must be disappointed with the lack of playing time.
Anzhi may have struggled to fulfill their potential in their first season after the heavy investment in the playing squad, but the arrival of Guus Hiddink seems to have helped the team start proving their worth. Decision to sign just two quality players in the summer yielded great results as the team were significantly reinforced without disrupting the balance of the squad. As a result, Anzhi won 9 of first 12 league games to climb to the Russian Premier League summit, while winning six straight games in Europa League qualifiers to reach the group stages. The Russians were somewhat unfortunate not to beat Udinese away seeing they conceded an equalizer in the dying moments of the match, but the 2-0 win over Young Boys saw the team return to the right track. With the players brimming with confidence after six straight victories in all competitions, you can bet your life on them going for a victory at Anfield. Former Arsenal midfielder Lassana Diarra is sidelined through a knee injury, while Odil Akhmedov is doubtful with an ankle problem.
Liverpool will be severely weakened in this match as Brendan Rodgers has no choice but to rest his star players for the Everton game, while Anzhi arrive in England full of confidence and very motivated to prove their worth on European stage. Given the circumstances, the visitors are much closer to winning this game.
Verdict: Anzhi Draw no bet
Best Odds: 13/10
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