Anzhi Makhachkala will have a good opportunity to make amends for the narrow defeat at Anfield, with Liverpool arriving in Russia with a severely weakened squad. That doesn’t mean the Reds won’t try and record a positive result, but they will have a very difficult job.
After last season served as a transition period for both the club and new players, Anzhi have showed a massive improvement in all aspects this term. While star signings Lassana Diarra and Lacina Traore certainly improved the quality of the squad, the arrival of world-class coach Guus Hiddink was probably the best piece of business for the club. The Dutchman, who was already used to coaching star-studded sides, managed to create a homogenous unit from a squad of quality footballers and led his side to some excellent results this term. While winning 10 of first 14 games in one of the strongest leagues in Europe, Anzhi showed a lot of promise in Europe as well, with the 1-0 defeat to Liverpool their only under-par result this season. With the team now very motivated to get revenge on the Reds, we should see a very good performance from the home side.
Brendan Rodgers probably hoped to receive a big backing from club chiefs when he decided to take over the reigns at Anfield, but the reality is he was left with a very small squad unable to compete at both domestic and international stage. The first thing he did was introduce youngsters like Sterling, Wisdom and Suso to the senior squad, who has largely impressed in the opening exchanges, but with several important players picking up injuries, Liverpool’s squad are now stripped to bare bones. With the Premier League campaign clearly a priority, Rodgers had no choice but to rest most of his starters for the Anzhi game, with that decision likely to cost him a positive result in Russia.