Emre Can’s battle for a starting spot and defensive rotations – Sevilla vs. Liverpool talking points

21 November 2017

Liverpool travel to Sevilla knowing a win will guarantee them a place in the knockout stages of the Champions League with a match to spare.


Jurgen Klopp has a few decisions to make for his lineup at the start of an immensely busy period of matches, including big upcoming games in the Premier League.

First, though, is the UEFA Champions League tie against Sevilla which could go a long way toward sealing a last 16 place.

 

Is There a Sturridge Solution?

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, October 28, 2017: Liverpool's Daniel Sturridge celebrates scoring the first goal during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool and Huddersfield Town at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Reports have emerged again that striker Daniel Sturridge is unhappy with the amount of pitch time he is getting and is looking for a January move to bolster his World Cup chances with England.

The 28-year-old is probably the fittest he has been since the season he and Luis Suarez tore defences to shreds in 2013/14 but he is still second choice behind Roberto Firmino, who is not even a recognised centre-forward.

He represents an effective option off the bench, which appears manager Jurgen Klopp‘s preferred tactic, but could see some increased action in the busy period leading up to the new year.

How that goes may determine Sturridge’s thinking when the transfer window opens but Klopp will not countenance a departure with the possibility of an FA Cup run and involvement in the Champions League knockout stages in 2018.

In the short-term Sturridge is unlikely to get his wish for more game time in Seville – even with the weekend visit of Chelsea looming on the horizon.

 

What Has Happened to Liverpool’s Dodgy Defence?

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, October 28, 2017: Liverpool's manager J¸rgen Klopp celebrates with Dejan Lovren after the 3-0 victory during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool and Southampton at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Saturday’s clean sheet against Southampton was the Reds’ fifth in six Premier League matches at home, where they have conceded just one goal.

Since leaking four against Tottenham at Wembley Klopp’s side have let in just one in four matches, including back-to-back European shut-outs against minnows Maribor.

Injury to Joel Matip means Dejan Lovren and Ragnar Klavan are set to start as the centre-back pairing and they are likely to be tested more by their Spanish opponents than anyone since Spurs at Wembley.

 

How Much Rotation Can Klopp Afford?

LONDON, ENGLAND - Saturday, November 4, 2017: Liverpool's Joe Gomez prepares to take a throw-in during the FA Premier League match between West Ham United FC and Liverpool FC at the London Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Top-four rivals Chelsea are the visitors to Anfield for a late Saturday kick-off but the Reds boss will be focused on his first objective which is to secure Champions League qualification with a win against Sevilla.

For that reason he is likely to keep changes to a minimum.

Loris Karius will start in goal and Joe Gomez is expected to replace Trent Alexander-Arnold at right-back, in keeping with Klopp’s policy of rotating his youngsters and goalkeeper for European games, but otherwise there will only be minor tweaks.

James Milner and Emre Can, both substitutes at the weekend, could both come into midfield, although it is more likely they will be vying for just one spot, while the front three of Mohamed Salah, Firmino and Sadio Mane picks itself.

Midfielder Adam Lallana, who has not started a competitive match this season because of a thigh injury, could be on the bench to be given a run out if circumstances allow to ease him back into things ahead of Chelsea.

 

Pain in Spain?

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Wednesday, September 13, 2017: Liverpool's Sadio Mane and Sevilla's Gabriel Mercado during the UEFA Champions League Group E match between Liverpool and Sevilla at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Liverpool have lost 1-0 on each of their last three visits to Spain, most recently against Villarreal in their 2016 Europa League semi-final first leg.

The 3-0 win in the return game is the Reds’ solitary victory in their last six matches against LaLiga clubs.

Overall their record on Spanish soil is better than in home legs, however, winning seven and drawing four of 16 fixtures.

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