Rodgers’ Russian Return

Having been drawn against Zenit St Petersburg in the last 32 of the Europa League, Liverpool face another lengthy midweek trip across Eastern Europe.  This time, however, the match will precede a potential FA Cup fifth round tie rather than a Premier League game.

The club’s last visit to Russia came in November, as the Reds faced Anzhi Makhachkala in the group stages of Europe’s secondary cup competition.  With the game coming only a few days before an important league match away at Chelsea, Brendan Rodgers decided to leave his star players at home in order to have them at their best for the weekend.  It could be said that the Liverpool manager’s plan worked to an extent, as his side were unlucky to take only a point back from Stamford Bridge.

An inexperienced squad consisting mainly of youngsters was taken to do the job in Russia.  Despite their inclusion said to be in order for them to gain valuable experience, lining up alongside fringe players like Joe Cole and Stewart Downing would be of little help when it comes to the first team. 

Whilst managing to get a draw out of a tough away league game, was there really the need to make such a sacrifice in the Europa League?  Looking back now, many supporters would probably say it was the right decision, as Liverpool still managed to finish top of the group after an impressive win at Udinese.  Ultimately, though, Brendan Rodgers disregarded the away match at Anzhi Makhachkala, putting out a team that, despite only losing 1-0, had little chance of getting a result.

If you want to win a game, you do not leave behind players of the quality of Steven Gerrard and Luis Suarez.  It will be interesting to see Brendan Rodgers’ attitude this time around.