PREVIEW | Liverpool v KRC Genk (Champions League)

The Reds return to Champions League action on Wednesday. Belgian side Genk are the opponents as Liverpool look for three points to help get a grip on Group E.

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Liverpool welcome Genk to Anfield, where a win for Jürgen Klopp’s side and an RB Salzburg loss would see the Reds all but through to the knockout stages of the competition.

Liverpool scored late on for the third time in a week as they overcame a spirited Aston Villa side to maintain their six-point gap at the summit of the Premier League table. Goals from Andy Robertson and Sadio Mané secured a vital win.

Since the sides met two weeks ago, Genk have continued their stuttering start to the season. They have played three games in their respective league and have claimed four points, which hasn’t helped them climb up the table as they remain eighth.

On the other hand, the Reds remain top of the Premier League with a six-point gap between themselves and Manchester City in second place.


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Liverpool have played three games since the two sides met last. Against Tottenham and Aston Villa they scored late on to secure three points. The young guns also secured a win on penalties against Arsenal in the cup, where a goal in the 95th minute saw the game go to penalties, which the Reds won 5-4.

Their most recent win against Aston Villa was quite controversial and has caused a lot of debate on social media. Villa led from a set-piece early on in the game after starting the game strongly. Liverpool though they had levelled later on in the half, but Roberto Firmino was wrongly judged to be offside even after VAR intervened. It looked as if it wasn’t going to be Liverpool’s day after having two strong penalty calls not given.

They pressed for an equaliser and eventually got one, Andy Robertson heading home with three minutes remaining and, deep into stoppage time, Mané secured the three points as he headed home from a corner to send the away end into bedlam.

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Genk have themselves played three games, but they are still under-performing and find themselves stuck in mid-table with results still not getting any better. The only game they have won was against bottom side Cercle Brugge, where a single goal in the eighth minute separated the teams.

A draw in their next game came against fellow mid-table side Antwerp. Genk battled back from two goals down to secure a draw with the equaliser coming in the 97th minute. Their opponents were reduced to 10 men with eight minutes to go which helped them salvage a point in the game.

Their game at the weekend saw them lose 2-0 away to Eupen, the home side placed in 12th position in a 16-team league. Two goals in three minutes midway through the first half proved to be the difference between the two sides. Genk played close to a full-strength squad but failed to test the home side as their rotten run of from continues.

Team news

Liverpool have no new injury concerns but, due to the game against Manchester City at the weekend, a few first-team players might start from the bench. Joël Matip and Xherdan Shaqiri are both out for sure.

Alisson will keep his place in goal, with Joe Gomez expected to come in to give Lovren a rest ahead of the weekend. James Milner could start at left-back to give Andy Robertson a breather.

Fabinho was rested at the weekend so he should return to midfield with Naby Keïta and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain potentially completing the midfield. This trio was tested in the reverse fixture and it often left Liverpool exposed at the back, especially in the first half-hour. With the trio likely to play again it will be interesting to see if they can shore things up.

Mo Salah’s form has been out of sort recently with an ongoing ankle injury, so may not start. If he does, expect him to play no more than an hour. Divock Origi will almost certainly start against his former side.

I would like Roberto Firmino given a rest but with the lack of senior options available it’s unlikely that a younger player like Rhian Brewster will be given a chance, despite the young striker putting in a good performance last week in the Carabao Cup.

Genk could make one change to the side that started in Belgium. Hungarian youngster Ianis Hagi may come in at Dieumerci Ndongala’s expense.

Their attack did cause problems in Belgium especially down the left where Lovren and Milner were playing. Paul Onuachu and Mbwana Samatta both got in behind our defence numerous times in the first half with poor decision-making and good goalkeeping the reason the score was kept level.

Their back four of Joakim Mæhle, Carlos Cuesta, Jhon Lucumí and Jere Uronen looked vulnerable at times and failed to deal with Liverpool’s attacking threat. Their midfield left large pockets for Firmino to dominate, which we all know isn’t the greatest thing to do.

Prediction

Liverpool made light work of the reverse fixture. Genk did cause some problems to our defence, but our quality eventually shone through as we beat them by three goals.

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Oxlade-Chamberlain and Keïta were both making their return from injury and both put in good performances. The Englishman showed us what we were missing last season in midfield with two goals from distance, while the latter kept the side ticking especially in attacking phases.

I think Liverpool will win by a large margin, and the quicker we build that lead the quicker we can get the important players off ahead of a possible season-defining game against City.

Predicted final score: Liverpool 5-0 Genk

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