Thursday see’s a return to Europa League matters for Liverpool FC as Roy Hodgson and his side go in search of a 6th straight European win in Utrecht.
Liverpool will be looking to improve on last week’s midweek outing, which culminated in defeat at the hands of Northampton Town and Roy Hodgson is expected to field a side with a greater level of experience to help try and ensure Liverpool’s progression in the tournament with one cup route now dead and buried. Dirk Kuyt will be hoping to see his name on the team sheet as he builds up match fitness following a couple of weeks out with a shoulder injury. The Dutchman will also hope to play from a sentimental perspective, after spending 5 years at Utrecht at the start of this senior career, where he went on to score 51 goals in 160 appearances for the club.
Liverpool travel with few injury issues, but the game will see another change at left back as Fabio Aurelio continues his carefully monitored recovery from a minor achilles injury and Paul Konchesky is troubled by a hamstring problem, after lasting just 28mins against Sunderland at the weekend.
Roy Hodgson has already expressed his increased happiness, at the way in which some of his players are starting to gel together, hinting that it could be a second successive run out for striker Fernando Torress who continues to search for form, fitness and an increase in his goals tally.
“It’s on my mind to play Torres, Raul Meireles and Dirk Kuyt on Thursday,” he said. “I think they’re knitting together well.”
David Ngog will be certainly looking to feature in the game though, as he looks to build on the 5 goals he has already scored in the competition so far. Despite Liverpool’s stuttering start to the season, the talented young striker already has seven goals in total to his name. Utrecht have a 21 year old striking threat of their own in the form of Ricky Van Wolfswinkel, a player Liverpool have been credited with monitoring over the last year, even right up to the close of the recent transfer window, who has found the net seven times in both the Eredivise and Europa League this season. Van Wolfswinkel presently sits joint top scorer in the league alongside another previous Liverpool target, Ola Toivonen of PSV Eindhoven.
Utrecht have found themselves in similar form to Liverpool over the last 5 games, picking up 2 draws, 2 defeats and 1 win over that time. Liverpool have a good record in Holland in recent years, seeing them take 4 victories and also draw against PSV Eindhoven during different levels of Champions League competition. The Anfield side have never met Utrecht in a competitive match though, with just two friendly wins against the side back in the seventies to speak of.