UEFA Europa League

Toulouse v Liverpool: Back Gakpo to strike as Reds keep rolling

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp
Liverpool have won all three of their Europa League games by at least two goals

Liverpool have a 100% record in the Europa League this season and Kevin Hatchard doesn't see that changing in Toulouse on Thursday night...

Toulouse v Liverpool
Thursday 09 November, 17:45
Live on TNT Sports

Naive Toulouse shredded at Anfield

While there were some positives for Toulouse to take from their visit to Anfield last month - Thijs Dallinga's breakaway goal was superb, and teenage keeper Guillaume Restes prevented an even bigger hammering - the gap in quality and experience between the French side and Liverpool was there for all to see in the Reds' 5-1 win.

That chasm is explicable. After all, Toulouse were in Ligue 2 recently, and their entry to European competition via winning the Coupe de France was a huge surprise. Add in the summer departure of the architect of that success - veteran coach Philippe Montanier - and you have a team ill-equipped to take on a team of Liverpool's stature and strength.

Toulouse are also finding life tough in Ligue 1. At the weekend they led at home to Le Havre, but after the game had been suspended due to a fire alarm, Les Violets collapsed in the final seven minutes to lose 2-1, as Mohamed Bayo scored a match-winning brace.

That defeat means that TFC have dropped to 14th in the French top flight, and are just a point above the relegation playoff spot. They have lost their last three matches in all competitions, and their last victory was over a month ago, a 1-0 home success in the UEL against LASK.

To make matters worse, Toulouse have won just two of their last 12 home matches in all competitions.

Toulouse are still without star winger Zakaria Aboukhlal because of a serious knee injury, while Oliver Zanden and Denis Genreau are expected to miss out. Thijs Dallinga, who missed a penalty but then scored at the weekend, is once again expected to lead the attack.

Liverpool on course for top spot boon

It's worth remembering that there's a real bonus for the group winners in the Europa League these days. If you win your section, you bypass the round of 32, avoiding a clash with a Champions League dropout. That would remove a couple of games from Liverpool's packed schedule, which isn't to be sniffed at.

Liverpool have won all three of their games in the Europa League, underlining their status as outright favourites. Manager Jürgen Klopp has used the tournament for rotation, but has selected strong enough sides to win each game with a bit of room to spare, even if the Reds did have to come from behind to beat LASK in Austria.

Youngsters like Ben Doak, Jarell Quansah, Callum Scanlon and Stefan Bajcetic have been given morale-boosting appearances, while summer signing Ryan Gravenberch has used the UEL to accelerate his acclimatisation to life at Anfield. The Dutchman looks more like the rising star he was at Ajax than the player who struggled for minutes at Bayern Munich.

Andy Robertson, Thiago and Bajcetic are all still out injured. Klopp was far from happy with his side's display in the 1-1 draw at Luton on Sunday, not least their inability and indeed unwillingness to effectively counter-press, so he may look to shuffle his pack and send a message.

Ben Doak is pushing for a start after recovering from injury, while Jarell Quansah could partner Joel Matip at the heart of defence.

Liverpool can secure comfortable win

Liverpool know that a win guarantees a top-two finish, and might even secure top spot with two games to spare. The atmosphere at the Stadium de Toulouse will be fierce, but nothing that will intimidate a side with Liverpool's European experience.

I'll back Liverpool -1.5 on the Asian Handicap at 2.09. They have won all three of their group games so far by at least a two-goal margin, and with competition for places so strong in the Reds' squad, no-one can really afford to drop their level.

Toulouse have managed just three clean sheets in 14 games this term, and I can't see them containing Liverpool here.

Back Liverpool -1.5 on the Asian Handicap at 2.09

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Gakpo worth a look

Liverpool have an embarrassment of riches in attack, but Cody Gakpo continues to be a solid contributor when given the opportunity. He has scored in the League Cup against Leicester and Bournemouth, and found the net against Wolves and Spurs in the Premier League.

Overall, the Dutchman has scored in four of his last eight appearances, and he has set up a goal in the Europa League.

Keep an eye on the team news, and if Gakpo starts, back him in the Score or Assist market at 11/102.11.

Back Cody Gakpo to score or assist at 11/102.11

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West Ham host Olympiacos and Kev's backing 3/14.00 Kudus to score once again - read why here!

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