By Danny Wright
Ex-Arsenal striker Charlie Nicholas believes that Liverpool will slump to a draw against Spartak Moscow at the Otkrytiye Arena in the Champions League on Tuesday night.
The Sky Sports pundit has predicted that the Reds will have to make do with a 1-1 stalemate against the Russian giants in their Group E fixture, backing Luiz Adriano to score first for the hosts.
Jurgen Klopp’s men earned a 2-2 draw with Sevilla in their Champions League opener earlier in September but will want to get a win as soon as possible in the group stages, starting on Tuesday in the Russian capital.
Sadio Mane is available after being suspended for the weekend’s action and Nicholas believes that may give Klopp a problem when selecting where to play Philippe Coutinho after he ran riot in the 3-2 win against Leicester at the weekend.
“This is a difficult one for Liverpool. Trying to work out their issues isn’t so challenging and I imagine Jurgen Klopp will try to play a squeezing game to take the pressure off the defence,” he said on the Sky Sports website.
“Philippe Coutinho being back in the goals is a huge positive but they’ve got Sadio Mane to come back in, so you wonder whether that will mean a deeper role for the Brazil midfielder?”
He added: “The Sevilla result was a really bad one in the sense that they can’t afford to lose at home and I think Spartak will treat this like an away game, look to expose Liverpool when they come forward, and I can see another troubling night.”
The other game in Group E on Tuesday sees Sevilla take on Slovenian side Maribor.
All the sides in Liverpool’s group are level on one point after drawing with one another on the opening day of the Champions League rounds this month.
Liverpool have been inconsistent in recent fixtures with their defence coming under close scrutiny from all that watch them.
Their last two fixtures have seen them both lose and win at the King Power against Leicester, but only a late penalty save from Simon Mignolet – who won’t be playing against Spartak – saved them from letting slip of three points.