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Stuart Dalgleish 14th Feb 2013 - 3:02

Europa League preview

Zenit St Petersburg v Liverpool - 17:00 live on ITV4

Liverpool (11/5) head to Russia to face Zenit St Petersburg (13/10, draw 11/5) knowing that the Europa League is their last real shot at glory this season.

The Reds were beaten by West Brom on Monday night as they missed the chance to go seventh and remain in the hunt for a Champions League spot, realistically now you have to say that their only route into Europe would be in this tournament, unless they get a bit of luck with how the domestic cups are won.

By and large Brendan Rodgers has shuffled his pack in this competition, giving some his fringe players a chance to shine; I'd be surprised if the Northern Irishman didn't name his best possible team for this tough looking first leg tie though.

The likes of Steven Gerrard (9/1 FGS) and Luis Suarez (5/1) should start, and the England winger Raheem Sterling (10/1) has been a regular in Europe also in his first full season with the club.

Suarez is who we focus our offer around on this match - we go a very tempting 6/1 that he scores in a Reds victory, and that's enhanced from 13/5. For the home team you can back Hulk and Zenit to win at 7/2, enhanced from 5/2.

The Brazilian has not had the impact you would expect after his big-money move, scoring just four goals, and I'd be tempted to have a play on Aleksandr Kerzhakov (6/1) who looks decent value at 7/4 to score any time.

The Russian outfit are currently on their mid-season break but have kept themselves busy with a series of friendlies out in the UAE and Turkey, I'm not expecting them to be rusty so a home win is where my money would go; it's 13/2 for 1-0 and 10/1 for 2-0.

Sparta Prague v Chelsea - 18:00 live on ESPN

Chelsea (7/10) have the 'honour' of becoming the first holders to be knocked out of the Champions League at the group stage, and out of form domestically they won't be full of confidence for this trip to Prague to face Sparta (9/2, draw 12/5).

Having won only one of their last five, the pressure is really mounting on the already unpopular Rafa Benitez just a few months into his tenure at the Bridge.

The Blues certainly don't want to start next season in this competition, but they cannot afford to take it easy for the rest of this campaign so a strong team should be named in the Czech capital.

Fernando Torres (4/1) will likely get the gig upfront as Demba Ba is cup tied, but with just one goal in his last 12 appearances he isn't worth touching for a goal scorer bet.

The main man at the minute is Frank Lampard (5/1), with the Blues legend now almost a banker to become their highest goal scorer of all time thanks to 12 strikes this season - we've enhanced the price of Lamps scoring in an away win from 15/8 to 5/2.

David Lafata (8/1) is our focus for the home team, with the forward being enhanced from 7/1 to 10/1 to score in an upset Sparta win.

A player of interest to Chelsea fans will be Jiri Jarosik (20/1), who has a Premier League and League Cup medal to his name thanks to his days in London, the midfielder is a 7/1 shot to score against his former employers.

A draw would not be the end of the world for Chelsea and would leave them firmly in the driving seat for the second leg; 1-1 is feasible at odds of 13/2.

Newcastle v Metalist Kharkiv - 20:05 live on ESPN

Newcastle (11/10) are another English team who have rotated their team heavily in the Europa League this season, but with no game at the weekend they should be able to give it their all at least in this first leg against Metalist Kharkiv (11/4, draw 11/5).

The Toon Army have won two of their last three and certainly weren't disgraced in their last league outing at Tottenham; and with some shrewd signings made in the transfer window, they should enough about them to enjoy a better second half to what has been a disappointing season so far.

The player at the heart of their return to form has been Moussa Sissoko (8/1), who is already looking a snip at £2.1m, the French star has scored a couple of goals and made several eye-catching passes in his first few games in the north east and could be a good shout at 11/4 to notch in this one.

Our offer though is focusing on Papiss Cisse (5/1), it has not been a goal-laden season like last year from the Senegalese, but he has played in a different role up till Demba Ba's departure and now through the middle we can expect more goals for the remainder of the season - it's 3/1 from 11/5 he scores in a home win.

The offer with Metalist is Jaja (15/2) to score in an away win from 9/2 to 6/1.

The Ukrainians are on their winter break at present, but signed off with four straight wins to keep in the hunt for a Champions League place and are not to be underestimated at St James' Park.

Tottenham v Lyon - 20:05 live on ITV1

The game of the night should be at White Hart Lane where Tottenham (3/4) take on Lyon (4/1, draw 5/2).

There are several little sub-plots to what promises to be an exciting game full of flair players; Tottenham goalkeeper Hugo Lloris could be up against his former teammates, one of which Bafetimbi Gomis (13/2) was a target for Spurs in the January transfer window, the French side are managed by a certain Remi Garde who donned the red and white of Arsenal in his playing days, while one of Lyon's best players this season has been Steed Malbranque (14/1) who was a favourite amongst Spurs fans a few seasons ago thanks to his tireless displays in midfield.

Malbranque actually retired a couple of years ago, but after a trial in the summer with the seven-time champs he agreed a one-year contract, which is likely to be extended if he continues his fine form.

A player in more than just fine form is Gareth Bale (4/1), the Welsh winger has had an absolutely outstanding season for club and country with 19 goals and Andre Villas-Boas will surely face plenty of big bids for his prized asset in the summer.

Champions League qualification is a must if they're to keep hold of Bale, and they're more than on course for that as they sit only a point behind Chelsea in third.

Our offer is unsurprisingly on the midfield ace, we go 3/1 from 8/5 he scores in a home win, the opposite scenario with Gomis scoring in a Lyon win has been boosted from 9/2 to 9/1.

Spurs have lost just once, at Leeds in the FA Cup, in 12 games so should be brimming with confidence for this clash - it is 17/10 they win and there's over 2.5 goals in the game, whereas over 2.5 in the total goals market looks a belting bet at 21/20.

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