Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers: We’ll be at full strength for Zenit test
Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers says he won't rest any players for their Europa League last-32 first-leg tie against Zenit St Petersburg
Brendan Rodgers says he will pick his strongest Liverpool side for the first leg of their Europa League last-32 tie against Zenit St Petersburg on Thursday.
Liverpool travel to the Russian outfit fresh from a shock 2-0 loss to West Bromwich Albion at Anfield in the Premier League, with the Reds at full strength for the Baggies clash.
Rodgers had opted to field his fringe players and youngsters in the early rounds of the Europa League as the Merseyside outfit finished top of Group A ahead of Anzhi Makhachkala and Young Boys.
But with Liverpool out of the FA Cup and League Cup while also struggling in ninth position in the English top flight, Europe’s second tier represents their only chance of silverware this season.
And despite a tough fixture against Swansea at Anfield on Sunday, Rodgers promised that no-one would be rested for the trip to Zenit, although Philippe Coutinho and Daniel Sturridge will not feature as they are cup tied.
“I want to go in as strong as we can. I think we’re on the down slope now – we’ve only got 12 games in the league and hopefully we can progress in the Europa League. We’ll be looking to go strong,” Rodgers said.
“The Sunday game [our rearranged clash with Swansea] hasn’t helped us, if I’m being perfectly honest.
“We weren’t due to play Swansea until the following week and I would have thought that after that was the best time to play that game.
“On the back of the players playing international games and two tough games away to Arsenal and Manchester City, it’s something we’ll need to look at.
“But there certainly won’t be wholesale changes as there were in the earlier rounds because this is a competition that we want to be strong in and we’ve now only got two opportunities to get through to the next round.
“We’ll assess and see how the group is, but the majority of the squad will travel.”
Pre-match facts: Zenit St Petersburg v Liverpool
• Zenit have played five games against English opposition – most recently winning the 2008 Super Cup via a2-1 victory against Manchester United in Monaco – with the record W3 D0 L2.
• 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 already met a Premier-Liga side this season, winning 1-0 at home and losing 1-0 away against Anzhi Makhachkala in the group stage.
• The Reds’ record in nine games against Russian clubs (including a 3-1 win against CSKA Moskva in the 2005 Super Cup in Monaco) reads W5 D1 L3.