With Philippe Coutinho set to be fit and Adam Lallana and Daniel Sturridge pushing for starts, Jurgen Klopp has a welcome selection headache against Southampton.
Liverpool host the Saints at Anfield where the Reds begin one final push in the race for Champions League qualification.
The finish line is in sight for Klopp’s side, who have retained control of their own destiny and now know three wins from the remaining ‘cup finals’ will guarantee a return to Europe’s elite stage.
It’s vital the Reds stay focused to see the job through, and Klopp has a healthy squad at his disposal to start that process against the Saints, with the boss “positive” on Coutinho’s availability as Lallana and Sturridge push for a start.
- Klopp to enjoy rare flexibility with selection with strong squad available
- Coutinho back in full training after dead leg at Watford
- Lallana pushing for starting role after bright comeback display in Watford win
- Sturridge “not at 100 per-cent” but striker in contention to feature
- No change with Jordan Henderson’s injury with captain’s season “looking like its over”
- Klopp certain to stick with unchanged defence at Anfield
- But tough decisions to make in midfield and attack with Lallana and Sturridge available
- Klopp could keep faith with Divock Origi to spearhead attack
- Options aplenty should Reds boss shuffle offensive selection
Liverpool’s XI vs. The Saints
Klopp has arguably the strongest squad of 2017 at his disposal, which presents a number of exciting potential lineups to claim a timely first league win over the Saints.
The boss will hope to name his strongest XI at Anfield, and providing Coutinho fully recovers, Klopp could do that by reintroducing Lallana who impressed on his 75-minute return at Watford.
There are a couple of ways to restore the 28-year-old for his first start since the draw at Man City in March, but it’s most likely that Lucas will make way.
Withdrawing the Brazilian would give the Reds the strongest available midfield, with Emre Can moving to the holding role, Gini Wijnaldum in box-to-box duties and Lallana resuming in attacking midfield.
Keeping the defence and attack untouched, the single change would see Liverpool start like this:
The current midfield three have impressed recently though so Klopp may keep Lucas in to avoid upsetting the fine balance.
But the German will still want his much-loved attacking midfielder in the team, so Lallana’s restoration could instead come in attack.
The England international would likely replace Origi, who has struggled to impose himself in recent games, goalless in his last four outings.
Withdrawing the Belgian would allow Klopp to reunite what was once his preferred front three of Lallana, Coutinho and Firmino, with the latter returning to his all-action role in leading the line.
This lineup would ensure stability is retained in midfield to help protect the back-line, and a potentially lethal threat is carried with the free-roaming forward trio.
But with the top-four finish line in sight, Klopp could name an attack-focussed XI to secure another vital win, introducing both Lallana and Sturridge to team.
The returning pair would both take up their most influential positions in an exciting selection designed to take the game to the Saints.
Lallana would again replace Lucas in midfield, bringing creativity to complement Wijnaldum’s relentless energy and Can’s combative work.
Meanwhile, though Klopp said in his press conference Sturridge “was not at 100 per-cent” the boss will undoubtedly have been impressed by the striker’s lively appearance at Watford.
And the sharp cameo, combined with Origi’s goalless form, could tempt Klopp to drop the Belgian and hand Sturridge a first league start since the opening game of 2017 at Sunderland.
Spearheading attack with support from Coutinho and Firmino, Sturridge would provide the predatory instinct that has been missing recently to an adventurous Reds’ XI:
Liverpool boast a commanding position in the race for Champions League football, and Klopp’s side must now see it through with three final wins, starting against the Saints at Anfield.
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