Tottenham Hotspur continue to take the competition seriously despite their domestic commitments, although neither Liverpool or Newcastle are prepared to take a chance with their team selection and Brendan Rodgers’ mentality will be no different ahead of Sunday’s Merseyside derby.
Liverpool v Anzhi Makhachkala
Rodgers has admitted that a limited squad size effectively makes it impossible to play his first-team in Europa League matches and that is especially the case with Fabio Borini on the sidelines following a foot injury.
It has been a win and a draw for Liverpool in this competition so far, with the Merseyside club running Young Boys into the ground before losing at home to Udinese and they now host a Russia side who boast several familiar names incluiding Lassana Diarra and Samuel Eto’o.
Anzhi Makhachkala look to be taking the competition seriously after a 1-1 draw in Udinese before an easy 2-0 win over Young Boys and that man Eto’o will look forward to visiting Anfield and hoping to be a thorn in Liverpool’s side. The Cameroon legend is an 11/2 chance (bet365 £200 free bets) to score the first goal.
Liverpool are a 13/10 poke (Paddy Power) to win this match and improve their qualification prospects in a difficult group, with Luis Suarez and Steven Gerrard likely to be left on the bench as Rodgers entrusts Oussama Assaidi with the job of leading the line and the Dutch forward is an attractive 9/1 to score first, while Jonjo Shelvey will also get into attacking positions for his team.
Newcastle v Club Bruges
So far so good for Newcastle United in Europe and Alan Pardew will continue with his policy of selecting reserve team players until the New Year where the likes of Demba Ba, Hatem Ben Arfa and Yohan Cabaye might be interested in steering the Magpies towards European glory.
A 0-0 draw away to Maritimo was followed by a 3-0 win against Bordeaux and Newcastle look a decent price at 4/6 (Stan James) to be celebrating on Thursday night, with Papiss Cisse likely to start the match after failing to appear in the north-east derby on Sunday afternoon.
Cisse was on fire for the Toon last season although he has struggled to get going this term and will look to take out his frustration against a Belgian side that were ransacked 4-0 at Bordeaux in their first away venture of Group D.
Brugge are a 9/2 chance to win at St James’ Park and did beat Maritimo 2-0 in their last Europa League match although they might struggle to reach the desired standard in this contest and United could be worth considering at odds of 8/5 (bet365 £200 free bets) to lead at half-time and full-time in this match.
After all Steven Taylor only played for ten minutes at the Stadium of Light and Chiek Tiote’s early red card against Sunderland means that he will have plenty in the tank should Pardew opt to play him as a midfield enforcer.
Maribor v Tottenham
Andre Villas-Boas clearly enjoys this competition having steered FC Porto to a recent success although fielding his strongest team against Lazio and Panathinaikos has only yielded two points and the Portuguese will hope for better fortune in Slovenia as Spurs look to try and land some silverware this season.
Tottenham were dealt a blow on Saturday when coming from behind to lead Chelsea 2-1 only to lose the London derby 4-2 although Gareth Bale’s absence due to paternity leave was keenly felt and the Welshman should be raring to go for this match where the visitors really need to get the three points on the board.
The London side are a best price 8/11 (BetVictor free bets) to claim a maximum haul at Stadion Ljudski, with Hugo Lloris, Michael Dawson, Jake Livermore and Emmanuel Adebayor likely to be restored to the starting line-up. Adebayor has been left frustrated by Jermain Defoe continuing in attack although the Togo forward is an attractive 11/2 to score the first goal in this match.
Maribor are a 9/2 chance to win the game and the Slovenian champions enjoyed a comprehensive 3-0 win against Pana in their first Europa League match before narrowly losing away to Lazio so perhaps the match will be more even than the odds suggest.
That man Bale can make all the difference to Tottenham and Sportingbet go 2/1 about the Welshman finding the net which looks likely to happen considering he can make things happen on his own against inferior opposition.