Should Jurgen Klopp stick with a winning team or freshen up his side ahead of the Hoffenheim second leg for Saturday’s clash with Crystal Palace?
Buoyed by securing a priceless win in Sinsheim, the Reds return to Premier League action as the Eagles land on Merseyside for the first Anfield game of the season.
Liverpool will be desperate to build on Tuesday’s confidence-boosting Champions League play-off win by collecting a first three points to kickstart the domestic campaign in front of the Kop.
The squad remains disturbingly limited for the clash with Frank de Boer’s side, but has at least been boosted by the return of Daniel Sturridge, who “should be available” to aid the Reds’ quest for a first home win against Palace under Klopp.
- Options boosted by Daniel Sturridge’s availability but Klopp still working with depleted squad
- Nathaniel Clyne, Adam Lallana and Philippe Coutinho all remain sidelined
- Klopp could introduce fresh legs with make-or-break Hoffenheim second leg looming
- Andy Robertson “developing really well” and hopeful of first matchday inclusion
- James Milner pushing for starting role after successful cameo in Hoffenheim
- Sturridge likely to feature among the substitutes on return to involvement
- Divock Origi, Dominic Solanke and Ryan Kent available for attacking injection
- Joe Gomez, Ragnar Klavan and Marko Grujic further options to introduce
Liverpool’s XI vs. the Eagles
The worryingly threadbare squad currently available means Klopp could almost be forced to name an unchanged side for the third time in as many games.
It would be a concerning move given the collective effort produced in Hoffenheim and with the crunch second leg to come on Wednesday—for which the Reds will need to be fully fit and fresh to ensure qualification is secured.
But with the preferred XI forming our current strongest team—and with little quality or senior options to introduce—Klopp could simply opt to trust the same side which started Tuesday’s priceless play-off win.
The boss will hope the same players can use the confidence gained from that crucial victory to earn a first league win, and begin building positive momentum for important upcoming games.
This is, of course, how Liverpool would look for the Anfield opener:
Though Klopp’s hands are undoubtedly tied, the boss needs to think long and hard about relying on the same team—even if it is the strongest currently available—for the third time in a week.
Even just a couple of changes where remotely possible should be made on Saturday to at least help preserve some players for what will be an intense return fixture with Julian Nagelsmann’s side.
There may not be an array of options available, but there is enough to at least retain the core of the winning side and supplement those selected again with a boost of quality and energy.
In his pre-match press conference, Klopp spoke promisingly on Robertson’s development as the left-back adapts to new surroundings.
And with the new arrival having seemingly made positive progress in this regard, a home fixture against relatively beatable opposition seems the ideal game to introduce him to the fold.
Robertson should come straight in at left-back for Alberto Moreno, giving the Scotland defender a chance to bed in and even stake his claim for the role in the deciding qualifier.
Elsewhere, Milner could provide an injection of freshness in midfield—where the vice-captain made a key impact on Tuesday—again replacing Jordan Henderson, who may be struggling for fitness having been withdrawn early in Hoffenheim.
The central reshuffle would see Emre Can drop to the deep-lying role, and Milner partner Georginio Wijnaldum in box-to-box duties supporting the lethal front three—with Sturridge held in reserve for as and when needed.
Making those changes would see the Reds look like this come 3pm kickoff time:
The Reds battled to a crucial win in midweek, and Klopp’s side must bring the same level of performance to Anfield in order to claim a first three points to get the Premier League campaign up and running.