Lucas or Origi to replace Lallana? – Predicting Liverpool’s XI for the Merseyside derby

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Injury to Adam Lallana is set to force Jurgen Klopp into shuffling his midfield for Saturday’s derby with Everton, and the boss has routes to explore.

The Reds return to action with a bang as Everton arrive at Anfield for a derby-day showdown that has more than just local pride at stake.

The grudge match is of huge importance to both sides, with Liverpool needing victory to continue the top-four push, and the Blues—who sit six points off Klopp’s men—wanting three points to enhance their own European hopes and late top-four charge.

That the derby follows international disruption adds to the unpredictability of a battle for which Klopp will need to find a way to compensate for being without the all-action Lallana.

 

Team News

  • Injuries to key midfielders to force Klopp into changing starting XI
  • Midfield severely depleted with Adam Lallana joining Jordan Henderson on sidelines
  • Daniel Sturridge also out despite return to training field
  • Philippe Coutinho and Roberto Firmino fit and fresh after coming through internationals unscathed
  • Change to come in midfield and possibly in attack depending on how Klopp navigates Lallana’s absence
  • Coutinho could switch into midfield alongside Emre Can and Georginio Wijnaldum
  • Lucas Leiva also an option at the base of midfield
  • Divock Origi available to come into attack if required
  • Defence likely to remain unchanged but Dejan Lovren hopeful of recall to starting XI
  • Youthful bench to feature with game-changing options light again

 

Liverpool’s XI vs. the Toffees

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Tuesday, November 29, 2016: Liverpool's captain Lucas Leiva in action against Leeds United during the Football League Cup Quarter-Final match at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The Reds’ key absences make Klopp’s selection relatively straightforward for a crunch fixture, with the only question coming with how Lallana is replaced.

And though seeing his options restricted, Klopp does have a couple of possibilities—one which could see the combative but cool-headed Lucas reintroduced for the intense battle.

The experienced Brazilian—who made his debut in the derby 10 years ago—would complete an industrious midfield, protecting the defence behind box-to-box Can and a more attack-focussed Wijnaldum.

Setting up this way could be viewed as safe, but it would allow for change with the minimum of fuss, retaining continuity in defence and, crucially, keeping the Reds’ most dangerous forward trio in tandem.

However, for a derby with bragging rights and a huge three points available, Klopp could opt for a more attack-minded reshuffle.

The creativity of Coutinho rather than security of Lucas could be preferred, ensuring spark and energy in midfield is retained in Lallana’s absence by moving the No. 10 to a role in which he has flourished previously.

Coutinho’s switch would open an attacking berth for Origi, who could play out wide to leave Firmino as the central striker like at Man City.

It’s more likely, however, that the Brazilian would move to the left with the Belgian down the middle.

Meanwhile, after a much-needed period of solid training for Lovren, Klopp could recall the Croatian in place of Ragnar Klavan and restore his first-choice back four in search of a way to nullify Blues’ danger man Romelu Lukaku.

This XI is arguably more of a gamble due to the breakup of Klopp’s first-choice front three, but it would provide another offensive influence and greater energy and threat to take the game to the Blues.

The first of nine remaining games, the derby could prove pivotal in shaping the run-in and the Reds must ensure it gets off to a perfect start with another Merseyside success.

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