Paul Merson: Europa League Liverpool's best bet of reaching Champions League
Last Updated: 01/10/15 3:12pm
Paul Merson says Liverpool should take the Europa League seriously because it represents their best chance of returning to the Champions League.
Brendan Rodgers's side face Swiss club FC Sion at Anfield on Thursday evening, and could rest several key players ahead of the Merseyside derby on Super Sunday.
FC Sion currently sit fifth in the Swiss Super League - 13 points behind leaders Basel - prompting club chairman Christian Constantin to say that the players "should be ashamed to be paid" after their most recent defeat.
Merson predicts a comfortable win for Liverpool, and says Rodgers should try to make the most of this opportunity to qualify for the Champions League.
"They need to win," Merson told Sky Sports. "Are they assured of getting in the top four this season? I'm not sure.
"The longer they stay in the Europa League, the better chance they have of getting in the Champions League.
"I expect them to win this game, even though they've got a massive match on Sunday against Everton, I expect them to win this 3-0."
Liverpool opened their Europa League campaign with a 1-1 draw in Bordeaux, and Rodgers opted to rest the likes of James Milner, Nathaniel Clyne, Christian Benteke and Martin Skrtel with a Premier League match three days later.
Victory over Aston Villa at the weekend boosted the Reds up to ninth in the Premier League table, and they are currently just two points behind Arsenal in fourth.
But Merson believes the Europa League represents a better bet for Champions League qualification.
"I think they do [have a better chance of qualifying through the Europa League than the Premier League]," said Merson.
"I think at the moment - I know they beat Aston Villa - but their Premier League form is not great and they've got a massive game against Everton.
"The longer you stay in this competition, the better chance you've got. It gives you something to fall back on - it's no good getting to February and being 12 points behind fourth and you're out of this cup."If you're still in it, you can start resting players in the Premier League and going for the Europa [League]."