Liverpool travel north of the border for a ‘Battle of Britain’ clash with Scottish Premier League club Heart of Midlothian in the Europa League play-off round, first leg at Tynecastle Stadium in Edinburgh on Thursday night.
Brendan Rodgers’ side got their Premier League campaign off to the worst possible start when they slumped to a 3-0 defeat against West Bromwich Albion but the Reds are hot favourites here, with Paddy Power making them 1/2 (1.50) favourites to triumph in Scotland.
The Jam Tarts were thumped 5-0 in the home leg of this competition last year by Tottenham Hotspur and John McGlynn’s side will be desperate to give a better account of themselves this time around having drawn English opposition again.
The 2012 Scottish Cup winners are chalked up at 11/2 (6.50) with Paddy Power to stun their English visitors with victory while the same firm offer 11/4 (3.75) that the Tynecastle tie ends in a stalemate.
If Rodgers were to field his strongest side, they will be clear favourites to win in Edinburgh but even with some rotation the 13/10 (2.30) quote from Paddy Power for Liverpool to lead at both half-time and full-time looks to be a very solid price.
Especially so considering that Spurs led 3-0 by the interval away from home last season. Even if Rodgers leaves the likes of Gerrard, Suarez and Johnson in reserve for the weekend clash with Manchester City, his side will be confident of victory.
The Jambos have lost several key players over the summer including talismanic midfielder Rudi Skacel, who scored 18 goals for the Gorgie club last season – including two in the Jam Tarts’ 5-1 demolition of capital rivals Hibernian in May’s Scottish Cup final – and may find the step up in class to be too much here.
After the opening day defeat at the Hawthorns, Rodgers will be desperate to see his side produce the goods here and the Reds are priced up at 9/2 (5.50) with Paddy Power to win 1-0 while a 2-1 win is chalked up at 7/1 (8.0) with the same firm.
Should Hearts spring a surprise, Paddy Power offer a chunky 14/1 (15.0) for a 1-0 home win while a 2-1 home win is an 18/1 (19.0) shot with the same firm.
The home side possess a genuine attacking threat in the shape of wingers David Templeton and Andrew Driver and are capable of penetrating the Reds’ shaky defence so the 8/11 (1.73) for the Scottish side to net at any stage is worthy of consideration here.
Brendan Rodgers’ side, though, should be capable of surviving a bumpy night in Edinburgh and can be backed to emerge victorious.
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Willie Duncan is a freelance sports journalist. Willie, from Edinburgh, has covered Scottish football for over 10 years and he specialises in football betting markets from across Europe. You can also follow Willie on Twitter