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Klopp’s toughest decisions for Chelsea game: Keita and Bajcetic to start?

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Liverpool secured their first win of 2023 when they progressed in the FA Cup with victory at Wolverhampton Wanderers on Tuesday evening.

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Harvey Elliott’s wonder strike was sufficient as the Reds earned a 1-0 win in their third round replay at Molineux. Liverpool will now look to start closing the gap on the Premier League’s top four when they entertain Chelsea in Saturday’s early kick-off.

And here we look ahead to the changes Jurgen Klopp could make when his team are next in action.

Backline 

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Klopp rotated heavily at Wolves and it will be interesting to discover with whom he keeps faith. One player unlikely to start against Chelsea, though, is Caoimhin Kelleher, despite keeping Liverpool’s first clean sheet since November. Alisson Becker is almost certain to step back in.

Andy Robertson and Trent Alexander-Arnold are primed to return in the full-back roles, although Kostas Tsimikas and in particular James Milner impressed when filling in at left-back and right-back respectively. Tsimikas took a knock towards the end of the game, however, and could be a doubt.

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Centre-back is the area where Klopp will have a decision to make, with Joe Gomez impressive alongside Ibrahima Konate having replaced Joel Matip on Tuesday. Nat Phillips, who did well when coming on as substitute, is another option, with Virgil van Dijk still out.

Bajcetic unlikely

Debate over Liverpool’s best midfield will only have intensified given the encouraging performance of the untried triumvirate against Wolves.

Teenage sensation Stefan Bajcetic caught the eye but, having made only his third-ever professional start and departing with what appeared to be cramp, it would be a surprise if he lined up at the weekend.

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The defensive midfield role, then, is likely between Fabinho and Jordan Henderson, with the former replacing Bajcetic for the final 15 minutes on Tuesday and the latter not involved. Milner is another option, although his minutes will be monitored having made his comeback in midweek after almost a month out.

Naby Keita played the full 90 minutes on his first start of the season but could be asked to go again, while Thiago Alcantara was one of Liverpool’s best players at Wolves before being withdrawn in the final quarter, perhaps with one eye on the Chelsea game.

Harvey Elliott was the standout at Molineux, but that came in a wide right role. Nevertheless, it has put him in contention for a start in midfield. Curtis Jones came off the bench on Tuesday, while Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is also an option. Arthur Melo remains out.

Nunez wait

How Liverpool line up in attack will depend on the availability of Darwin Nunez, who has missed the last two games with a minor injury. And should he return, Klopp must determine where the Uruguayan plays – through the middle or down the left flank.

Cody Gakpo was employed in the false number nine role at Wolves, but could switch back to the left. Both Fabio Carvalho, who started on Tuesday, and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain are other possibilities in the wide role, while on the other flank Mohamed Salah is expected to step in.

Ben Doak continues to impress during his cameos from the bench but Roberto Firmino, Luis Diaz and Diogo Jota all remain sidelined.

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