AFTER falling out the Champions League third-place trap door, Liverpool turn up in the Europa League. A tricky tie against Besiktas awaits them, how does Chris Graham (@chrisgraham79) see the game unravelling?
Liverpool v Besiktas | Thursday 20:05 | ITV1
Cast your mind back to December 9th. Liverpool drew 1-1 at home to Basel and were knocked out of the Champions League. Brendan Rodgers was getting pilloried left, right and centre by the fans and media and the thought of the Europa League was somewhat ghastly.
How things change. Since that awful Anfield night, Liverpool have lost just twice. The first of those defeats came five days later against Manchester United while the other loss was a brave extra-time League Cup surrender to Chelsea. Things have definitely turned for the Reds.
Liverpool are 8/13 with William Hill to beat Besiktas at home on Thursday, and at face value I have no quibbles with that price. The concern I have as an admirer of the Anfield club is the feeling that something will have to be sacrificed over the next three months.
Brendan Rodgers’ side have pushed themselves back into the Top 4 reckoning, they’re in the FA Cup Quarter-Finals and they now have the Europa League to contend with. It’s not 2001, it’s 2015 and something will have to give overall.
That day can wait for now and they should be too strong for Besiktas here. The lure of that Champions League berth for Europa League winners should just add a bit more grit to Liverpool here.
I think one 90 minute defeat in their last 22 games is all I need to say about Liverpool really, their 3-2 win over Tottenham last week was further evidence of the progress they’ve made over the last couple of months.
But what about Besiktas Chris? Yeah, they performed superbly well in the group stage, ending up top of Group C ahead of Spurs. But the caveat for me was the fact that the London club were not at full pelt during the autumn group stage. Mauricio Pochettino was still finding his feet as manager and the Premier League was a far bigger deal for the club.
For a purer form comparison, just take a look at the Turkish league. Besiktas are top by one point, and two clear of Galatasaray. That’s the same Gala side that were humiliated in the Champions League last year. No, I’m not convinced the form is that strong.
I’m going to play on a new market here and back Liverpool to score 2-3 goals at 11/10 with Ladbrokes. Daniel Sturridge is proving just what a vital player he is for the club, and the way he’s seamlessly come back from injury to find the net has much to admire. I expect him to play a pivotal part and play a hand in Liverpool goals. This bet would have paid out in four of the last five Liverpool matches.
Liverpool v Besiktas – Liverpool to score 2-3 Goals (11/10 Ladbrokes)
One of our Twitter followers (@Vince_RFC) reckons Chris is being too kind to Liverpool. He thinks Besiktas can get something from this game.
Let us know what you think in the comments box below.