MATCH PREVIEW: Besiktas V Liverpool
Liverpool travel to Turkey on Thursday evening as they prepare to face Besiktas in the second leg of their Europa League tie. The match at the Ataturk is sure to create a special atmosphere for the travelling fans who must be thankful that the Reds go into this match with a lead.
Injurys have taken a turn for the worse for Liverpool who will be unable to call upon Steven Gerrard, Jordan Henderson, Philippe Coutinho, Glen Johnson, Mamadou Sakho and Lucas Leiva. Things aren't much better for Besiktas either who have doubts over Demba Ba after he picked up a calf problem.
The last time the two sides met of course was last week and Liverpool came out on top after a late controversial penalty was converted by Mario Balotelli.
Besiktas lost at the weekend against Eskisehirspor and in the process lost their place at the top of the Turkish league to rivals Galatasaray. Liverpool on the other hand picked up a somewhat lucky win over Southampton with Philippe Coutinho and Raheem Sterling on the score sheet.
The recent injury news for Liverpool for me provides a perfect excuse for Brendan to finally opt to start both Daniel Sturridge and Mario Balotelli up top together. However, I very much doubt this will happen, as always, I live in hope.
Whatever team he chooses I hope he opts to play at least one striker up front. Without the likes of Markovic or Coutinho on the wings I think Raheem Sterling would be very exposed up top.
Turkey is always a tough place to go but the Reds actually have a decent record against Turkish opposition and should go into this game feeling confident. Besiktas weren't exactly threatening at Anfield and whilst home advantage will play a part I don't think they offer a lot in terms of fire power. The potentially missing link of Demba Ba could also be a real boost for Liverpool.
Several fans are actually hoping that we get knocked out of this competition tomorrow night so that we can focus on the league. Whilst I can totally see the theory, for me any piece of silverware is worth going for. Liverpool are a big club yet apparently it's too much hassle to go for a cup whilst trying to nab fourth in the league? It's just an excuse in my opnion.
The added bonus this time of course is that if you win the Europa League you are automatically entered into the Champions League. Granted Liverpool also have a huge game against Manchester City at the weekend but we should have enough in the bag to focus on the league, FA Cup and the Europa League in my opinion.
Apologies for the short match preview this evening folks, I've been super busy this week and had a night job tonight so haven't been able to focus on the preview as much. Normal service resumed for the match report Friday night plus the winner of the #LFC wall sticker will be announced!
Enjoy the match folks, wherever you are watching!