Brendan Rodgers is fuming his side will make a grueling journey back from their Europa League clash with Besiktas on Thursday night in order to meet Manchester City at noon on Sunday. Barely 57 hours after the Europa League match.
Rodgers says that he’s had to compromise Liverpool’s Euro dream because of ridiculous Premier League scheduling. He left Philippe Coutinho and Jordan Henderson behind when they travelled to Istanbul to meet Bestikas in the Europa League, and their manager explained he was forced to do it, because he’s had “no help” over fixtures.
Rodgers is quietly fuming about being backed into a corner by the Premier League and TV bigwigs, who have given City a massive advantage by playing the game at noon on Sunday.
“That extra period of 48 hours City will have could be crucial, certainly physically. Especially as we don’t get back until 3am we will have very little preparation time,”he insisted.
“There wasn’t a great deal we could do about it. We’re just trying to manage the situation to try and get the result we need to to get us through. Then we can concentrate on the game at the weekend.
“The idea is to get as much recovery as we can. It’ll be 3am when we get back, the players will probably get home around 4:30am. Then we’ll aim to train and recover later that day.
“The key is sleep and rest. They will not rest much going back on the plane, with the adrenaline flowing after a game. They will not sleep so well. Friday will be about rest. That will be vital.”
Asked if he has been forced to compromise by resting the influential Coutinho, he added:
“You have to. You can’t go into it blind because, like I said, it is one where that is the management and the planning of it.
“It shows how tough it is, especially if you don’t get help, when we are on when we are, early on the Sunday.
“It’s not ideal. I’ve had to bring out young Coutinho. He hasn’t travelled. He’s an outstanding, key player for us and he’s played a lot of games consecutively for us now.
“This was a game that I’d earmarked to give some recovery in knowing he can stay at home, not travel and prepare and get ready for the weekend.
“The other guys are either young or haven’t played a great deal. We picked up a few injuries, Jordan has picked up a knock.
“It’s not ideal, especially with the early kick off. But it is still a European competition. I would rather be in it than not in it. We know where we’re at.”
The fixture congestion is not the only thing on Rodgers mind as Liverpool also have an injury crisis as they will be without eight players – Steven Gerrard, Lucas, Glen Johnson, Mamadou Sakho, Jose Enrique, Brad Jones, John Flanagan and Lazar Markovic for the Besiktas match.
With only Joe Allen of the recognised midfielders available, Rodgers is likely to push Emre Can into the middle, with Kolo Toure deputising alongside Dejan Loven and new skipper Martin Skrtel at the back.