Liverpool round off 2016 with a fixture that could produce more fireworks than New Year celebrations as they take on Pep Guardiola’s City at Anfield.
The Reds come into a mouthwatering game with full belief having claimed a third straight win over Stoke City to extend their unbeaten Anfield run to 16 games—showing the watching City boss they are up for the fight on Saturday night.
With his recent, consistent lineup in strong form, Klopp will have to decide whether to stick with the same again or introduce some fresh backup quality in Emre Can and Daniel Sturridge for the first of two games in under 48 hours.
- Klopp to operate with similar squad as available for recent games
- Little change with options available and recent results could see Klopp name unchanged XI
- But Liverpool manager could freshen starting team with Can and Sturridge fit
- Usual midfield trio poised to go again after dominant Stoke displays
- Can could enter into midfield for welcome fresh energy and physicality
- But Sturridge hopeful impact from bench in last two games earns starting role
Liverpool’s XI vs. City
Though options remain somewhat restricted, another winning display last time out means it could again be a case of ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ for Klopp.
The boss has named the same side for the last three games, and with the consistent in-form XI having started three consecutive wins, Klopp could once more field an unchanged team.
This would see Simon Mignolet continue behind a Matip-less but familiar looking defence, with trusted trio Jordan Henderson, Georginio Wijnaldum and Adam Lallana forming an energetic and creative midfield.
Sticking with the same lineup would see a big call made in attack, where Origi would lead the line supported by Mane and Firmino.
This would keep Sturridge on the bench despite recent sharp showings—which would at least hand Klopp quality to turn to when required:
With City’s visit the second of three games in just six days, and, farcically, two in just 46 hours, rotation will be crucial to keeping players and performances fresh.
Liverpool have benefited from Klopp’s consistent team selections, evidenced by recent results.
But the boss may feel the right time for change is on Saturday, for a game in which the Reds must be at full throttle.
Klopp shouldn’t hesitate with the quality he has in reserve for midfield and attack, with Can available to come into the central trio, likely at Wijnaldum’s expense due to the Henderson and Lallana’s importance.
Meanwhile, facing his former club could be the perfect time to unleash a confident Sturridge as he rediscovers form and his goalscoring touch, allowing Origi a deserved rest after an impressive run.
Those two adjustments would see the Reds line up like this:
There could hardly be a bigger game to end 2016 than against City, and with the chance to make a real statement, Liverpool must ensure they sign off a year of undeniable progress with a bang.