The Europa League resumes on Thursday evening and Liverpool are in action in Russia as they take on Zenit St Petersburg at the Petrovskij Stadium (ITV4, 5.00pm). There is little to choose between the two teams for the first leg of this last-32 clash as Liverpool enter into a busy period of fixtures, while Zenit make their return from a winter break.
Zenit are currently 5/4 favourites to win the match this week but they will have to work out any rustiness quickly as they make their return to competitive football. The Russian side have been enjoying a winter break in their domestic league and will be playing a competitive match for the first time since 10th December.
Meanwhile, Liverpool are set to play the second of three games in the space of seven days and they can be backed at 11/5 to win and the same price to draw with Ladbrokes. This competition has taken on renewed meaning for the Reds after their shock 2-0 loss at home to West Brom on Monday means a top-four finish in the Premier League is unlikely this season.
The defeat to West Brom has increased the pressure on manager Brendan Rodgers and he will again have to do without the services of Daniel Sturridge, who is cup-tied for Europa League matches. It means Luis Suarez must bear the burden of leading the attack once more and the Uruguayan is Ladbrokes bookmakers' 5/1 favourite to score first after notching eight goals in his last nine appearances.
Liverpool scored the first goal in five of their group games in this competition and they are a best price 11/8 to score first on Thursday. Jonjo Shelvey took a particular liking to the Europa League as he scored four goals in six appearances and he is 10/1 to score first in Russia. However, Shelvey will be lucky to get a game after his abject showing against West Brom on Monday.
The Reds won Group A to qualify for the last-32 of the Europa League and it will be interesting to see what side Rodgers picks, particularly as his team are in league action against Swansea on Sunday. They can ill-afford to take this tie lightly as they bid to end a run of four matches without a win, although it doesn't bode well that Liverpool have won just two of their last 11 in this competition, including defeat to Russian side Anzhi earlier this term.
Zenit, who are third in the Russian League, head into the game with a fine record on home soil as they have won three and lost none of their last six at home in all competitions, while they have only lost one of their last 19 European home games. That sole defeat came against AC Milan earlier this season and it was a result that meant they failed to qualify for the knockout stages of the Champions League.
They enjoy the benefit of dropping into the Europa League though and Miguel Danny will be looking to continue the fine form that has seen him score two goals in three European starts, with Ladbrokes going 8/1 he scores first and 5/2 he scores anytime. There could be a few goals on the menu as Zenit have kept just one clean sheet in 10 and both teams to score is available at 5/6.
Zenit v Liverpool Tips
Tip #1: Both teams to score @ 5/6 with Ladbrokes.
Tip #2: Liverpool to score first @ 11/8 with Ladbrokes.
Tip #3: Miguel Danny to score anytime @ 5/2 with Ladbrokes.
To Qualify Betting
Correct Score Odds
13/2 Zenit 1-0
10/1 Zenit 2-0
9/1 Zenit 2-1
6/1 Draw 0-0
6/1 Draw 1-1
16/1 Draw 2-2
9/1 Liverpool 1-0
16/1 Liverpool 2-0
12/1 Liverpool 2-1
First Goalscorer Odds
5/1 Luis Suarez
5/1 Aleksandr Kerzhakov
6/1 No Goalscorer
7/1 Aleksandr Bukharov
8/1 Miguel Danny
8/1 Luka Djordjevic
8/1 Fabio Borini
9/1 Steven Gerrard
10/1 Jonjo Shelvey
10/1 Roman Shirokov
Odds supplied by Ladbrokes.com, who offer live in-play betting for all Europa League matches.
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