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Rodgers’ Liverpool quandary: which competition to prioritise?

| 17.02.2015

Liverpool’s failed title bid caused a stinking hangover which extended further into the current season than Brendan Rodgers could have predicted, but now the Reds’ boss has cleared his fuzzy head, he’s staring at a different problem altogether.

Rodgers’ dilemma now lies in where best to concentrate Liverpool’s efforts as his charges conceivably chase FA Cup and Europa League glory whilst tyring to land a top-four spot.

Thanks to a run of 16 games without defeat and a humdinger of a draw in the FA Cup, a grim-looking season suddenly bristles with promise.

To his enormous credit, a change of formation by Rodgers has helped drag seventh-place Liverpool up from the doldrums of a premature Champions League exit and a position of 12th in the league heading towards December.

Now Liverpool are 15/8 favourites for the FA Cup there’s a strong case that the Northern Irishman ought to throw everything at it to secure the first trophy of his tenure.

However, unlike previous seasons the Europa League now muddies the waters. UEFA’s decision to award the winners a Champions League play-off berth is a serious carrot to dangle.

Only Roma are given shorter odds than Liverpool’s 11/1 to win the competition, though round-of-32 opponents Besiktas – with Demba Ba spearheading their attack – have already shown themselves to be a dangerous team by topping a group containing Tottenham.

Not aided by Lazar Markovic’s four-game European ban and with seven games between themselves and the trophy, it feels like this route back into the Champions League could be even more treacherous than the squeeze for third and fourth.

Given Liverpool sit top of the current Premier League form table, and the seas have parted thanks to a fortuitous draw in the FA Cup, leaving Europe’s second-tier competition on the backburner may be the best course of action.

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Christian Crowther

Give Christian a sport with anything remotely spherical in it and he’ll happily while away the hours watching it on the box. However, he’d much prefer writing about, playing or betting on golf, football, cricket, tennis, snooker.... you get the picture.