Jurgen Klopp has an impressive squad available for Liverpool’s trip to Newcastle United, giving the boss a big call over whether to stick or twist.
The Reds attempt to move on from a disappointing September by kicking off October’s very tough schedule with a second straight Premier League win.
Recent trips to St James’ Park have been unrewarding with defeats suffered on the last two visits.
But the Reds will hope for better on reunion with much-loved old boss Rafa Benitez, who has never lost to Liverpool as an opposing manager.
Klopp will be determined to end Benitez’s spotless streak and record a first win over Newcastle, and he has a strong squad available, giving him the best possible chance.
Therefore, the big question for Klopp is whether to rotate or stick as close as possible to his strongest lineup.
- Klopp confirms “a few knocks” in the squad but no serious injury concerns
- Only long-term absentees Adam Lallana and Nathaniel Clyne ruled out
- Joe Gomez available after serving one-game European ban
- Impressively strong group hands Klopp interesting selection decisions
- Simon Mignolet to return in goal for Premier League duties
- Outfield starters from Spartak Moscow draw all hoping to keep places
- But plenty of quality in all departments for Klopp to introduce
- Gini Wijnaldum hopeful of starting on Newcastle return, with Daniel Sturridge also eyeing a start
- Likes of Andy Robertson, James Milner and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain all available
Liverpool’s XI vs. the Magpies
Klopp fielded what could be regarded as Liverpool’s strongest team against Spartak—which saw eight of those who started the victory at Leicester retained in Russia.
Such situations have previously seen Klopp heavily rotate for the next match to keep the team fresh—as done against Crystal Palace after strongest selections for Watford and Hoffenheim, and with Burnley after Man City and Sevilla.
A similar approach could suffice at St James Park, where Klopp could make numerous alterations again in all departments in search of a fresh performance.
In defence, Mignolet’s return could be followed by change in both full-back positions—with Gomez and Robertson able to provide fresh legs and greater solidity either side of the back four.
Meanwhile in midfield, Klopp could rest Jordan Henderson, who has played three consecutive full games.
Philippe Coutinho’s flurry of action, with four successive starts, could also see the Brazilian protected.
There is real quality available to introduce, and Klopp could opt for the hard-working ex-Newcastle duo of Wijnaldum and Milner to join Emre Can, who would move to the base of midfield.
Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane should remain in attack, but Sturridge should be handed the striking role between the two speedsters after recent bright cameo appearances, and with Firmino currently out of sorts.
Such rotation with six changes would see the Reds line up like this on Sunday:
However, Klopp will be aware of the upcoming international break, which starts immediately after Sunday’s game.
With this in mind, the boss could stick close to his strongest team—which would provide consistency in selection and hopefully performance, with regards to general dominance at least.
And Klopp could make just one other switch to his entire XI, introducing some much-needed fresh legs in midfield.
Here, Wijnaldum could enter for Can—who turned in a tired display in Moscow and has played back-to-back full games—to complete the midfield unit with Coutinho and Henderson.
Playing Coutinho deeper would allow Klopp retain each of his most lethal attacking quartet, giving the ‘Fab Four’ another chance to build consistency and hopefully spark to life on Tyneside.
Victory at Leicester put the Premier League campaign back on track, and now the Reds must keep positive momentum building going into the international break with three points.