Liverpool’s European exit chucks more eggs into FA Cup basket

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Despite a long run of good form, Liverpool could not convert their 1-0 first-leg advantage over Besiktas into Europa League qualification, as a penalty shootout in Istanbul brought the curtain down on a broadly painful continental campaign.

Having stunk the place out in the Champions League group stages, hope of a European trophy had been restored thanks to a pendulum swing in fortunes for Liverpool since the dark days of autumn.

However, as the old saying goes, where one door closes another opens and in Liverpool’s case there is no time for self pity as three games at Anfield in the space of eight frantic days are now more critical than ever.

The Reds are still the form team in the Premier League, but will need to be at their very best to overcome champions Manchester City next up as they look to keep their top-four momentum going.

Archetypal scrappers Burnley follow the Citizens to Merseyside and having fought for a hugely unlikely point at Stamford Bridge recently, the Clarets won’t lie down in any way, shape or form.

Considering Brendan Rodgers’ side had been quoted at odds of 11/1 before Christmas to make the top four, Ladbrokes’ offering of 15/8 about the same feat shows just how far they’ve come.

Regardless of how the battle for those hallowed Champions League spots transpires, surely Rodgers will have to maximise efforts towards lifting his first silverware as Liverpool manager.

It won’t be lost on the Northern Irishman that his side are the 15/8 favourites to claim the FA Cup thanks to a fortuitous draw all round for the quarter finals.

The visit of mid-table Championship outfit Blackburn Rovers concludes the concertinaed trio of fixtures and while nothing should be taken for granted, it’s a gift-wrapped opportunity to make the last four.

The next two in the betting facing each other is the icing of the FA Cup cake for Liverpool as one of Manchester United or holders Arsenal’s name will be omitted from the semi-final draw.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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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.