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Thursday 21 February 2013

Europa League: Parker wary of Lyon threat

Premier League sides prepare for the second legs of last-32 contests on Thursday night

  • Tottenham Hotspur's Gareth Bale scored two free-kicks in the first leg against Lyon

  • Frank Lampard will miss Chelsea's second-leg tie at home to Sparta Prague

  • Luis Suarez wraps up warm but Anfield is expected to be a cauldron for the visit of Zenit

  • Newcastle train in the Metalist Stadium where another lively atmosphere is expected

Tottenham Hotspur midfielder Scott Parker says his side must not have a defensive mentality when they travel to Lyon for the second leg of their UEFA Europa League round-of-32 tie against Lyon on Thursday evening.

"We'll need to be at our best to get a result"
Andre Villas-Boas

Spurs take a 2-1 lead into the contest, following Gareth Bale’s double at White Hart Lane, and Parker has called on the team to 'be themselves' against the Ligue 1 title-chasers.

"Of course, not conceding a goal would be ideal but we can’t go there with the mentality of trying to get a 0-0 draw," the 32-year-old told the club's website.

"We need to be solid defensively but at the same time we have players who can cause them problems. We've got to be ourselves, to try and nick a goal and win the game.

"We know it will be tough. They are well-organised with a wealth of Champions League experience and some very good players. We'll need to be at our best to get a result."

Lampard out

Chelsea manager Rafael Benitez has revealed that Frank Lampard and Branislav Ivanovic will not be part of the squad to play Sparta Prague at Stamford Bridge.

The Blues lead 1-0 after the first leg and Benitez says he will rotate his squad ahead of this weekend's Barclays Premier League contest against Manchester City.

"It's important to be fit and train properly, and Frank will not be in the squad tomorrow as we have to manage the group and think about all the other games," Benitez told the club's website.

"We've played so many games, 25 in three months. We can't train how we would like to, and then you have to carry on and play the next game.

"Still we are improving a lot of things but you have to keep on winning games. As soon as you lose or draw everything changes, but the team is working very hard, the staff are working very hard and I think we are going in the right direction."

Anfield influence

Liverpool take on Zenit St Petersburg at Anfield aiming to overturn a 2-0 deficit and manager Brendan Rodgers is calling on the home support to make it a night to remember.

"The legend of Liverpool is based on these types of nights"
Brendan Rodgers

"The legend of Liverpool is based on these types of nights," he said. "The fans will be vital on Thursday night  as they always are in every game. But we'll need them even more. I'm sure we'll get the type of backing that can take us to victory.

"If you walk around Melwood, you see various quotes from top players and some of the world's best managers. In those quotes, it's not the game that is talked about, it's the supporters  and it's such nights that has really made Liverpool what it is.

"The important factor is not getting an early goal, it's about getting the first goal. If we get the first goal, it will set us up. We'd love to get through."

Daniel Sturridge and Philippe Coutinho are cup-tied and Fabio Borini is injured so Luis Suarez will lead the line for the Reds. Defender Martin Skrtel is an injury doubt after he missed training with a knee problem.

Test of character

Newcastle United manager Alan Pardew is anticipting a difficult atmosphere in Ukraine when his side take on Metalist Kharkiv at 6pm this evening.

The Magpies drew 0-0 in the first leg at St James’ Park and Pardew believes his side will have to pass a test of character at the Metalist Stadium in order to keep their European hopes alive.

"This is perhaps where we lack a little bit of experience in Europe," Pardew told the club's website. "It's our first season back for a number of years and the atmosphere will probably be the first time we really experience a hostile crowd in this competition.

"With all due respect, in the other times the opposition's crowd hasn't really played a part. I think [tonight], it might well do and we need to be able to cope with that. But we have players  Yohan (Cabaye), in particular  who have played on the international stage and are used to that scenario. So I don't envisage a problem in 90 percent of our group, but one or two I'll be watching closely to see that they cope well with it."

Pardew has named captain Fabricio Coloccini, Moussa Sissoko as well as Cabaye in a strong squad for the trip.

Europa League fixtures

Lyon v Tottenham Hotspur (6pm)
(Aggregate: 1-2)

Metalist Kharkiv v Newcastle United (6pm)
(Aggregate: 0-0)

Chelsea v Sparta Prague (8.05pm)
(Aggregate: 1-0)

Liverpool v Zenit St Petersburg (8.05pm)
(Aggregate: 0-2)

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Key Points

  • Four Premier League clubs return to UEFA Europa League action on Thursday
  • Tottenham defend 2-1 lead at Lyon while Liverpool need to come from behind against Zenit St Petersburg
  • Frank Lampard rested for Chelsea tie with Sparta Prague, Newcastle expecting tricky away test against Metalist Kharkiv