Martin Skrtel has called on the Kop to roar Liverpool to a famous European win over Zenit St Petersburg. He said; “The atmosphere at Anfield in European games is always special and the game on Thursday will be even more because we lost the first game and the crowd feel we need their help.”
Skrtel went on to say: “It's not going to be easy, but if we can get an early goal that will help us a lot. Then just try to play our game, create chances and take them. We believe we can beat them at home.”
Liverpool were on the end of a 2-0 loss in the first leg of their Europa League knockout match against Zenit St. Petersburg. It took a terrific effort from Hulk to break the dead-lock, before Sergei Semak put the game beyond any doubt with the Russian side's second.
Liverpool have been in incredible form at home lately, scoring plenty of goals whilst conceding very few. Unfortunately, Fabio Borini was injured on Sunday, whilst Daniel Sturridge and Phillipe Coutinho are both cup tied for tonight's game. The weight of expectation will once again fall of Luis Suarez's shoulders, as the Merseyside outfit look to overcome a 2-0 deficit.
Liverpool Strongest Starting Eleven Against Zenit.
Despite having a difficult season, Pepe Reina will get the nod in goal. The Spaniard has had a roller-coaster season in goal for Liverpool so far, and was beaten by a worldly last week, courtesy of Hulk. However, Reina is without doubt the number one at Anfield, and will remain that way for the remainder of the season.
Glen Johnson, a contender for Liverpool's player of the season will get in at right back. The attacking prowess of Johnson's game is a vital element to his and Liverpool's game, and Rodgers will need a performance from the England international. Despite coming up against his former club, I think Martin Skrtel will get a place on the bench, meaning Daniel Agger and Jamie Carragher will start for Rodgers. Despite being in his final season, Jamie Carragher is showing us all he still has the ability to be a key player for Liverpool Football Club. Jose Enrique will have the difficult task of keeping Hulk quiet. The Brazilian caused havoc last game, and will need to be kept quiet if Liverpool are to progress.
Lucas Leiva will sit next to Steven Gerrard in the two midfield holes for Liverpool. The Brazilian is a key part of Brendan Rodgers' plans. He tackles, intercepts and maintains possession well for the Reds, whilst giving Steven Gerrard a platform to work off. The England captain thrives next to Lucas, and will need to be on his best form to dictate from the middle of the park as his side battle from 2-0 down. In front of them two, will be Suso, Henderson and Stewart Downing. I've chosen Suso over Sterling due to Sterling's light frame. That's not saying Suso is a beefier physical specimen, but Sterling was pushed and shoved all over the park as he looked to attack the Russians. Henderson will play as the central attacking midfielder for Liverpool. He will however need to interlink with Steven Gerrard with attacking duties. The 22 year old is known for his strong, engine like box to box midfield ability, and will need to cover more ground than his compatriot. Stewart Downing will get the nod over the right wing. Downing is beginning to show signs of improvement in a Liverpool shirt, and will need to attack the Russian fullbacks as he looks to break down a stern defence.
Luis Suarez will once again lead the line solely for Liverpool. The Uruguayan will be without Daniel Sturridge and Phillipe Coutinho as Liverpool will look to attack Zenit. However, with 22 goals in all competitions Luis Suarez is in fine enough form to lead the line against Zenit St Petersburg this Thursday.
Hopefully Liverpool can rely on the KOP to be the 12th man and help roar them to victory over the Russians.
Who would you have in your starting line up?