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Zenit St Petersburg v Liverpool


Reds: Swift reaction needed

Reds: Swift reaction needed

Liverpool will be looking to bounce back from their loss to West Brom when they travel to Russia to take on Zenit St Petersburg in the first leg of the Europa League round of 32 on Thursday.


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The Reds were humiliated on Monday evening, losing 2-0 to the Baggies despite being the dominant side for most of the match. The result means that Brendan Rodgers' men have failed to win in their last four fixtures, including their gutsy performances against Arsenal and Manchester City.

The Merseysiders narrowly progressed to this stage of the competition thanks to a superior head-to-head record. They beat Russian outfit Anzhi Makachkala to the top of their group, even though they were level on points along with BSC Young Boys.

Rodgers has confirmed that he will take a strong squad to Russia, meaning the talismanic Steven Gerrard and Luis Suarez will likely both make appearances on Thursday. However, January acquisitions Daniel Sturridge and Philippe Coutinho will not travel to Russia as the pair are cup tied for the competition.

Raheem Sterling will come back into the side though after suffering from illness, while Martin Kelly is the only long-term injury concern.

Zenit, meanwhile, have not played any league football since the 10th of December due to the Russian Premier League's winter break. However, the Sine-Belo-Golubye (Blue-White-Sky Blues) have played several club friendlies since mid-January, losing three and winning two.

Luciano Spalletti will have little injury concern as a result and will be able to call on star performers Axel Witsel, Hulk and Alexander Kerzhakov, while new signings Luis Neto and young defender Milan Rodic will also be available.

This will be the first time these two sides have ever met, but Zenit have a perfect record at home against English opposition.

Posted: 13/02/13 15:10

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