Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers is hedging his bets that a weakened side can handle Besiktas on Thursday so he can bring close to his best against Manchester City at Anfield on Sunday at 7am ET.
He wishes he didn’t have to mess around with his XI for either date. Liverpool would love to see a trophy from the Europa League, but its bid for a UEFA Champions League spot sees a bit of a 6-pointer in Sunday’s match (even if the odds of overcoming City’s 10-point lead aren’t good at all).
So Rodgers asks a seemingly reasonable question — which has a reasonable answer that we’ll get to after the quote: Why two days turnaround to face a City team that played on Tuesday?
“The Europa League is tough, especially if you don’t get help, and we’re on early on the Sunday,” said Rodgers, who will lead his team out against Besiktas at the ground where Liverpool were crowned European champions in 2005. “We’re playing a lot of games, we are doing well. We are in a couple of competitions and if we want to maintain that, and work well for the coming years, we have to get used to a lot of games.”
Rodgers is trying to manage his resources as best he can and, although Daniel Sturridge will start against Besiktas, Jordan Henderson, Steven Gerrard, Philippe Coutinho, Glen Johnson and Mamadou Sakho all remained on Merseyside.
Rodgers said: “That extra 48 hours they [City] will have could be crucial, certainly physically. As we don’t get back until 3am, we will have very little preparation time. It’ll just be about recovery. It doesn’t help us. But look, it’s the way it’s been dealt and we’ll deal with it the best we can.”
The answer, of course, is that if Liverpool handled its UEFA Champions League business then the rest would be a lot more even. Still, Rodgers and Liverpool supporters have to think there could be some sort of swap in the Premier League’s arsenal.