LONDON (Sporting Alert) — English Premier League clubs Liverpool, Tottenham and Everton will all be in action in the Europa League encounter on Thursday.
Young Boys vs Everton
The First Premier League team in action on Thursday will be Roberto Martinez’s Everton, who will travel to face Young Boys in what is expected to be a very tricky tie on the road.
Everton has been struggling in its domestic fixtures this season and the views are that playing in Europe has contributed heavily to their poor league form.
Martinez acknowledged the struggles in the league this season, but he believes playing in Europe can only help their form as he seek to build some late season momentum.
“For us to be involved in the Europa League is a phenomenal opportunity to grow as a team and it is something we need at the club,” the manager said.
“European football is something that needs to run in our DNA and we want to have this on a consistent basis.
“In terms of the season, we have never had a real momentum in the league and that has been affecting us in our results.
“But we have been pristine in Europe and, now, in the knockout stages we are really excited and looking forward to it.
“We embrace the competition and we want to take this competitive edge into the Premier League and finish the season as strong as we can.”
Everton’s run in the group stages was impressive, but the EPL side will now come up against a Young Boys outfit, which has a 100-percent European record at the Stade de Suisse in this campaign.
On top of that, experienced left-back Leighton Baines and midfielder Aiden McGeady will not be in action on Thursday, as they were among the eight players left at home by Martinez for the trip to Bern.
Liverpool vs Besiktas
Liverpool, in the meantime, are targeting this competition after being dumped in the group stages of the Champions League earlier this term.
The Reds, one of the favourites to lift the trophy this season, will start their round of 32 fixture at Anfield against Besiktas.
Manager Brendan Rodgers is thinking about starting with Mario Balotelli in his attack, as Raheem Sterling continues to struggle with a foot problem and maybe rested ahead of the English Premier League fixtures at the weekend.
Captain Steven Gerrard misses out as he is not in the squad after failing to recover from a hamstring injury, while winger Lazar Markovic will start the first of his four-match ban after he was punished for being sent off in his last group game in the Champions League.
Tottenham Hotspur vs Fiorentina
The other English Premier League side in action in the Europa League on Thursday is Tottenham and they are bracing for a tough challenge from the visit Fiorentina.
Mauricio Pochettino’s side has been improving recently and he is confident his players are in the right frame of mind to carry over their domestic form into the European competition.
The Premier League boss will be familiar with on-loan Chelsea midfielder Mohamed Salah and Manchester City’s full-back Micah Richards, who are both set to start for Fiorentina.
Spurs could rest the on form Harry Kane in this fixture, although the England forward has expressed his intentions of playing in every game this season, as long as he is fit.