He’s critical for us! Liverpool boss Rodgers plays up Suárez role
Brendan Rodgers insists he has no concerns about relying on Luis Suárez as Liverpool prepare to host Zenit St Petersburg
Brendan Rodgers insists he has no concerns about relying on Luis Suárez as Liverpool’s focal point in attack ahead of Zenit St Petersburg’s visit to Anfield on Thursday.
The Reds head into the Europa League last-32 second leg looking to overturn a two-goal deficit following last week’s 2-0 defeat in Russia.
Rodgers’ options up front are limited, with Fabio Borini set to miss the rest of the season with a dislocated shoulder picked up against Swansea and Daniel Sturridge cup-tied.
However, the Liverpool boss has no doubts that Suárez – who has scored 23 goals in all competitions this season – can deliver in front of goal against the Russian side, despite enduring a frustrating night in the first leg.
“Luis just wants to help the team so much,” said Rodgers. “After the game in Zenit, he could have been disappointed after having missed a few chances, but he is a real buoyant spirit.
“He didn’t want to come off against Swansea, even though there was only 15 minutes left to go. He wanted to stay on and get more goals. But I wanted to look at the bigger picture.
“I wanted him to get a round of applause from the crowd because I thought he deserved it and he’s going to be very important for us tomorrow night. So I was giving him a bit of a breather. He’s a critical player for us.”
Liverpool v Zenit St Petersburg: Pre-match facts
• Zenit have been to the city of Liverpool before, losing 1-0 against Everton in the 2007-08 UEFA Cup group stage. They went on to win the competition that season, though.
• Liverpool have lost just once in their last 16 European home games – 3-2 against Udinese in this season’s Europa League group stage – a run which includes 11 wins as well as four draws.
• The Reds are one of three sides – along with Juventus and Internazionale – who have won this competition a record three times.
• UEFA Cup winners in 2007-08, Zenit are back in the round of 32 for a fifth time since the advent of the group stage in 2004-05, and have yet to be eliminated at this stage.