Go low in Moscow

  • By: David John
  • Last Updated: November 8 2012, 7:20 GMT

David John reckons Anzhi Makhachkala and Liverpool will fight out a low-scoring encounter in the Europa League on Thursday.

Brendan Rodgers: Testing trip to Russia

Liverpool's journey to Moscow on Thursday night in the Europa League looks to provide the best punting opportunity when they take on Anzhi Makhachkala.

This is a classic mid-season Euro poser for Reds boss Brendan Rodgers.

Having won the first clash 1-0 at Anfield while fielding a strong side, he now looks to the fringe players ahead of the long journey to Russia's capital with a trip to Chelsea next on the agenda on Sunday.

There will be no Steven Gerrard, Daniel Agger, Joe Allen or Luis Suarez while Pepe Reina and Glen Johnson won't be risked with minor injuries so it will be up to Jamie Carragher to lead a similar side to the one that was beaten by Swansea in the Capital One Cup.

They will perhaps have something to prove after that ignominious exit as holders of the trophy but this looks to be a tough fixture with plenty of distractions to overcome as well.

The game has been switched to the Lokomotiv Stadium in Moscow as UEFA will not allow Anzhi to play at home in Dagestan due to security issues.

That means few of the 'home' supporters are likely to make the 1,000-mile journey north themselves and there is every chance the ground is likely to have little in the way of atmosphere.

That could be a help to Liverpool in some respect but Rodgers also has to contend with a dearth of strikers with 18-year-old academy graduate Adam Morgan or Samed Yesil likely to be given an opportunity.

Anzhi hardly tore up any trees at Anfield and you just wonder what sort of performance they are going to put in with all the disruption they face as well off the pitch.

This has all the trappings of being distinctly uninspiring and a play on under 2.5 goals looks very much the way to approach this one.

Newcastle meet Club Bruges in Belgium and Toon boss Alan Pardew also has personnel issues to cope with as there will be no Demba Ba, Yohan Cabaye or James Perch.

Pardew still believes he has a team good enough to do a job as he attempts to get qualification to the next phase sorted out as soon as possible - but also admits Bruges will be a tough opponent again.

They impressed in patches on Tyneside but have parted company this week with manager Georges Leekens on the back of some modest domestic results and how they react rather throws a spanner in the works in terms of a betting angle.

Finally, Tottenham will be looking to bounce back to form from what Andre-Villas Boas called their "worst performance" of the season against Wigan when they host Solvenian champions Maribor.

Spurs have posted three successive draws in the competition and at first glance, I was keen on supporting them to record a debut victory this year in comfortable style.

But AVB's quotes that his side currently lack a team ethic - highlighted by Jermain Defoe's turbulent exit down the tunnel at the weekend after being substituted - ring true and this is another game which has an unpredictable angle.

The advice is to leave alone and concentrate the funds on the Liverpool match.

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