With the final international break of the year done and dusted, Klopp’s Premier League leaders return to their title pursuit against Claude Puel’s Saints.
The Reds have taken full advantage of recent winnable games, earning nine points from West Brom, Crystal Palace and Watford, and they will look to maintain their ruthless streak against a Southampton side winless in three matches.
The continued excellent form of Klopp’s regular picks means selection remains relatively straightforward, but Lallana’s injury and Coutinho’s potential unavailability provide headaches for the manager who has plenty of quality alternatives to turn to.
- Strong group available for Klopp but he could be forced into unwanted changes
- Lallana set to miss out with groin injury sustained in England’s draw with Spain
- Coutinho a doubt after reportedly undergoing MRI scan for unspecified injury
- Dejan Lovren fit again and set to return at centre-back in place of Lucas
- Georginio Wijnaldum poised to replace Lallana in midfield
- Klopp could stick with usual blistering attacking trio
- But gruelling international trip for Robert Firmino could force further switches
Liverpool’s XI vs. The Saints
With Lovren available and Lallana almost certain to miss out, Klopp could make two changes to the team that hammered Watford 6-1.
The Croatian’s return to fitness should see him re-form the first-choice centre-back pairing alongside Joel Matip, while Wijnaldum should be the man to enter for Lallana, forming the three-man centre with Henderson and Can.
Keeping Liverpool’s razor sharp forward trio together is dependent on Coutinho being passed fit, but if the Brazilian is and Klopp sticks with the usual attack, the Reds would look like this at St Mary’s:
However, with Klopp sweating on Coutinho’s fitness, the German could opt against starting the in-form Brazilian and instead introduce fresh legs to his XI.
This could see the Red leader revisit a similar set-up to that deployed in the 4-1 win over Leicester on return from September’s international pause – which saw Coutinho start on the bench after similarly gruelling international exploits.
Should the magician be unable to play from the beginning, Klopp could hand Firmino the left-side role and Sturridge a starting berth up front, with Mane playing from the right to complete the same trio that blitzed the Foxes:
Alternatively, Klopp could rest both Brazil internationals, with Coutinho potentially carrying an injury and Firmino having had no training time to prepare for the Saints trip.
The manager could therefore change shape and return to the 4-4-2 diamond system that proved so effective against Southampton at St Mary’s twice last season – barring the late defensive collapse in the league game.
Within this, Henderson, Can and Wijnaldum could form midfield, but Mane could move to the tip, offering an explosive support to strike duo, Sturridge and Origi, who netted six goals between them against the Saints last season.
An outside selection for Klopp would see Liverpool look like this:
Facing Southampton away from home poses a tough fixture to return from the break, but Klopp’s side must pick up from where they left off against the Hornets to continue their early title surge.