Suarez the solid option

  • By: Ben Coley
  • Last Updated: December 6 2012, 18:14 GMT

Ben Coley previews Thursday's action in the Europa League and fancies Luis Suarez to score first for Liverpool.

Luis Suarez is the man to rely on this Thursday
Luis Suarez is the man to rely on this Thursday

As was the case in the Champions League this week, assessing the final round of Europa League fixtures requires one to establish which sides will be giving their all.

Tottenham and Liverpool both need results of sorts in order to reach the last 32 and that's certainly why the latter are heavy favourites to win in Udine, whereas Newcastle travel to Bordeaux knowing that their progress is assured.

The problem we face as punters is that incentive has been very much factored into prices so while a strong Liverpool line-up may triumph over an Udinese side who've struggled at home in Europe, evens is no sort of value.

However, the best bet of the night does come at the Stadio Friuli where Luis Suarez should be backed to score Liverpool's first goal.

The case for this selection is very much a straightforward one.

The Uruguayan is virtually certain to start for the first time away from Anfield in this competition, as he's due to serve a one-game suspension this weekend.

He may well have been given the nod regardless, as Liverpool need to win to be certain of progressing to the next round of the competition and it's clear that to do that, they will in all probability need their talisman to contribute.

So far this season, Suarez has scored Liverpool's first goal eight times, and indeed there are only two games in which he's scored where that goal wasn't Liverpool's opener.

That fact speaks to how Liverpool struggle to generate from other areas and if we look at his figures away from home, Suarez has scored on four separate occasions and on each he was the first away player to find the net.

He also scored in the reverse fixture so all things considered, 3/1 about him finding the net first for Liverpool compares favourably to 11/10 that he scores at any time and 9/2 that he scores the game's first goal.

The fact that Udinese - who scored four at the weekend - do pose an attacking threat heightens confidence, as they're likely to adopt a carefree approach having already been eliminated and that should afford Suarez space in which he can work his magic.

Should the Italians score, Liverpool will have to go all out and again this circumstance heightens confidence that Suarez can once again prove the star of the show for Brendan Rodgers.

Newcastle's injury problems are well-documented and with their place in the last 32 assured it's highly likely that Alan Pardew will field a much-changed side for their trip to Bordeaux.

The French outfit haven't lost at home since March and although a point will guarantee them top spot in the group, there's no reason they won't be going all out for victory with a game against woefully out of form Stade de Reims ahead this weekend.

In short, those looking for a solid bet on the night should strongly consider the Ligue 1 side but all the 10/11 has gone and quotes of 8/11 are probably about right before team news is confirmed.

Finally a word on Tottenham, who host Panathinaikos at White Hart Lane and are prohibitively priced to do the business.

Essentially there's little about this tie we can tell you that you don't know: Spurs have responded superbly to their London derby defeat and with the Greek outfit struggling massively on and off the field, the home side should have no problems.

However, 3/10 isn't a working man's price and as a point would be enough to see Spurs go through we're going to swerve this game.

Keep an eye out for team news though, as Emmanuel Adebayor could start having been suspended domestically of late and in a game which the hosts will dominate, BetVictor's 11/10 about him scoring is a very fair offer.

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