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Rupert Wyman 20th Oct 2010 - 10:27

Roy may now walk alone

Liverpool have gone to Italy looking for a morale boosting win against Napoli in the Europa League on Thursday after a torrid start to their Premier League campaign.

However, they are without the rested Torres and Gerrard. Neither of the star players are flying to Italy and Hodgson has been forced to leave Johnson, Agger and Kuyt at Merseyside due to injury and illness.

The Europa League had looked a good chance of silverware for Hodgson's Liverpool but now the manager can only see the competition as an inconvenience.

On Sunday, Liverpool have a must win Premier League match at home to Blackburn Rovers, the Kop can forgive a loss away at Napoli but three points is essential this weekend.

Napoli are an ambitious side that have to be seen as value at Even money with William Hill. For Napoli this is a 'crunch' match in Group C and their home form suggests that they can beat Liverpool.

The rejuvenated Italian side were only recently where Liverpool are heading, in the doldrums. Now they are one of the strongest sides in Italian football and they have to be respected at 28/1 to win the Europa League.

They currently sit in fourth position in Serie A and have lost one game in seven so far. They have more firepower than Liverpool, they were buoyed by the signing of the superb Edinson Cavani from Palermo in pre-season.

He is 9/2 to score first and the 'El Matador' is currently the joint top scorer in  Serie A with six goals. The Liverpool defence will have their work cut out trying to contain Slovakia's captain Marek Hamsik.

He is one of Napoli's most attacking players and the likes of Poulson and Meireles will need to contain him. Hamsik is 15/8 to score anytime and he does shoot from distance.

Napoli use Cavani at the top of a 3-4-2-1 formation with the Argentine Lavezzi playing alongside Hamsik behind him.

Liverpool are 13/5 to win away and the draw is 12/5. I think Liverpool's best chance of leaving Naples is with a draw. In the first half betting, the draw is 10/11, I would be swayed towards backing Napoli at 17/10 to win the first half, Liverpool are in disarray.

This morning, Frank Rijkaard left his position as manager of the Turkish giants Galatasaray after little more than a year at the helm. He is 5/2 to be the next Liverpool manager and should Hodgson fail to win the clash against Napoli and not get three points at the weekend, his time as Liverpool manager could be over.

It is ironic that his near success in the Europa League at Fulham helped him become the gaffer at Liverpool. Now the same competition could help put the final nail in his coffin at Merseyside later this week.



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