Lallana & Sturridge poised to start – Predicting Liverpool’s XI vs. West Ham

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Jurgen Klopp could be forced into making changes for Sunday’s clash against West Ham, with Adam Lallana and Daniel Sturridge poised for starting roles.

Liverpool mark the season’s final away game with a first trip to the London Stadium where Klopp seeks a timely maiden win over Slaven Bilic’s Hammers.

The Reds arrive for the biggest game of the season with a sense of frustration after being denied yet again by Southampton at Anfield.

But Klopp’s men must put any negativity to one side to claim a potentially defining fourth straight away win, which could seal a top-four spot if results elsewhere fall kindly.

A much-improved attacking display is needed, and with injury concerns over Lucas and Roberto Firmino, Klopp could be forced into alterations to try and make that happen with Lallana and Sturridge primed to enter.

 

Team News

  • Reds hit with untimely injury concerns just as squad strengthens for final games
  • Lucas and Firmino both doubts with duo suffering muscle problems
  • Klopp hopeful over duo’s fitness but training success will determine involvement
  • Lallana and Sturridge “ready” to start if Brazilian pair fail to recover
  • Defence to remain unchanged after posting second consecutive clean sheet
  • Klopp could consider formation change given midfield and striking options available
  • Youthful but limited Reds bench likely to feature if senior players miss out

 

Liverpool’s XI vs. The Hammers

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, January 7, 2017: Liverpool's Daniel Sturridge warms-up before the FA Cup 3rd Round match against Plymouth Argyle at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Klopp will afford the struggling Brazilian pair every chance to prove fitness as he seeks to take the strongest squad possible to a potentially definitive game.

The boss’ main focus will be on Firmino’s availability rather than Lucas’, given the midfielder’s absence can be covered by Lallana, who Klopp confirmed is ready to return.

But having trained on Friday, Lucas seems the more likely to be fit, with Firmino’s lack of training potentially confining him to the bench for a Stoke-like impact.

If this proves the case, Lucas could again protect an unchanged defence behind Emre Can and Gini Wijnaldum, but Firmino’s absence will force change up top.

Klopp has a couple of ways to reshuffle his attack, but the most likely will see Lallana move to the right, with Philippe Coutinho continuing on the left.

This enforced change should be followed by a voluntary switch, as Klopp should hand Sturridge his first league start since January in place of out-of-form Divock Origi.

Having Lallana and Sturridge alongside Coutinho would provide greater incision and cutting edge in the final third, and would see the Reds look like this:

Klopp will be desperate to have Lucas and, especially, Firmino at his disposal but it’s still a realistic proposition that both will miss out.

If the duo are sidelined, Klopp will be forced into making two changes, and thankfully two high-quality alternatives are available with Lallana and Sturridge.

While their respective selections are simple, Klopp has to find how best to incorporate them to spark an improved attacking showing.

And assessing those likely to form the reshuffled XI – which will boast countless central players and a genuine strike partnership – there’s a case to say Klopp’s preferred 4-3-3 won’t best suit.

This provides serious reason to consider a rare formation change, and springing a surprise by fielding a 4-4-2 diamond seems an ideal move to make.

The narrow set-up would perfectly suit the likely XI – given the on-going struggle for wide threat – and the occasion, with a sharpened offensive display required.

Within this, Can would screen an unchanged defence behind Wijnaldum and Lallana, with Coutinho playing at the tip of a high-energy and creative diamond.

This quartet would provide the work-rate and ammunition needed to supply strike-pair Origi and Sturridge, who have often shone on the occasions when played in tandem.

A tough game awaits against Bilic’s side, but Liverpool must hold their nerve with another strong away-day display to seal what could be the defining victory in the top-four push.

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