Jürgen Klopp takes his men down the M6 to take on bitter rivals Manchester United tomorrow in a mammoth clash. Even at this early stage of the season, it feels like a six-pointer. At some point, the Reds will have to beat their title rivals, and following two draws at home to Chelsea and City, they can ill afford another set of dropped points. We take a look at how the manager could line up to try and win all three points.
In goal, Alisson Becker will take his place as he returns to PL action having missed out against Watford last time out. He was in impressive form in midweek as he put in a Man of the Match performance during the topsy turvy win at Atletico Madrid. Ahead of him, the first choice back four should go again. Trent and Robertson are at full-back, with Matip and Virgil at the heart of defence.
It wasn’t a vintage performance by the defence in Madrid, but you don’t expect the gaffer to make any changes in this of all matches. The midfield is where he’ll face a conundrum. Fabinho is a shoo-in for the holding role. His absence was felt sorely in that first half against Simeone’s men. Alongside him though, questions linger on each option. Henderson, Milner, Jones, Keita, and Ox will be vying for two positions.
Or perhaps Jurgen will throw a curveball and go 4-2-4 (4-2-3-1). That is unlikely though. If he’s to pick a midfield three as he always does, it’s a hard job predicting which duo he’ll pick alongside Fabinho. The skipper is probably the likeliest, but he’s not been consistent with his performances this season. Keita’s involvement in the two goals conceded on Tuesday night can’t be ignored either.
Starting 35-year-old Milner for the 3rd game in 8 days doesn’t seem advisable either. And what of young Curtis who was playing well before his groin issue with England U21s? Is he ready to just go straight into the team in such a big game? Ox on the other hand was impressive off the bench in midweek. He’s got the pace and the drive to get away from his man and that could be a useful tool tomorrow as United can be pedestrian in the middle of the park.
Picking Ox would be a big call though, and it’ll probably mean dropping Henderson or shoehorning him to the left of midfield like he was against Chelsea. A few dilemmas for the boss to ponder. In attack, however, it’s pretty straightforward. Jota will have to make do with a place on the bench again as Mané, Firmino, Salah continue their resurrection tour as a trio. With Chelsea and City both winning today, the pressure is on.
Alisson, Alexander-Arnold, Matip, Van Dijk, Robertson, Fabinho, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Henderson, Salah, Firmino, Mané.
Subs: Kelleher, Gomez, Konate, Tsimikas, Milner, Keita, Jones, Jota, Minamino.