Benteke to start as Klopp rings changes – Predicting Liverpool’s XI vs. Watford

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We assess how Liverpool’s starting 11 could look against Watford on Sunday, with Jurgen Klopp set to make numerous changes for the Hornets’ visit.

Buoyed by the euphoria of reaching the Europa League final, the Reds return to the Premier League stage with Watford the visitors at Anfield.

It’s another league game of little importance for Klopp and his squad, but with Anfield futures to fight for, it’s another chance for those squad members and youngsters to prove they can be part of Liverpool’s exciting future.

Klopp has confirmed that he will rotate his side after another special European night in midweek, and another experimental team is set to face Quique Sanchez Flores’ men.

Team News

  • Klopp set to make changes again after European activity
  • Most first choice players to be rested after Villarreal victory
  • Much-changed XI of youth and fringe players to face the Hornets
  • That won’t include Ings who is closing in on return but won’t be risked
  • Smith missing through suspension after red card vs. Swansea
  • Senior figures Skrtel, Lucas, Allen & Benteke likely to start
  • Ward likely to replace Mignolet in goal for Anfield debut
  • Randall and Flanagan full-back options
  • Stewart set to return to midfield
  • Brannagan and Chirivella hopeful of more first team experience
  • Ibe and Ojo likely to resume wide roles
  • Completely different XI to midweek could be named

Liverpool’s XI vs. The Hornets

WATFORD, ENGLAND - Sunday, December 20, 2015: Watford's head coach Quique Sánchez Flores during the Premier League match against Liverpool at Vicarage Road. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

With changes forthcoming, the question for Klopp is how heavily to rotate after seeing his side produce another big effort in midweek.

The Reds boss could name a completely changed XI to keep performances and players fresh, which could see Ward, Randall, Skrtel, Lucas and Flanagan form the back five.

Allen and Stewart should resume midfield duties where Cameron Brannagan should join the duo in a three man centre, given his chance to impress ahead of Chirivella this week.

Ibe and Ojo seem certain to start in wide roles again where they should operate in support of Benteke, and in a 4-3-3 shape, the Reds could look like this on Sunday:

Watford 4-3-3

But having said pre-match “It’s not allowed that we play below our level in two league games in a row” Klopp could name a stronger side with fewer changes.

Lovren and Clyne could retain their starting shirts, joined by Randall and Skrtel, while Lucas and Allen could form an experienced two-man midfield.

Ibe and Ojo should again fill the wide positions, but Lallana could join the duo to offer extra creativity and energy, with the trio supporting Benteke.

That would see Liverpool start like this at Anfield:

Watford 4-2-3-1

There’s little to play for other than pride for Liverpool, but a strong end to the season, starting with three points on Sunday, is important for confidence and momentum ahead of the Basel final.

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