Jurgen Klopp will restore Liverpool to full-strength for Saturday’s showdown with Man United, but key decisions need to be made in defence and midfield.
English football’s fiercest rivalry reignites with the stakes even higher as Liverpool battle United for second place at Old Trafford.
Klopp’s side arrive in Manchester brimming with confidence after three straight league wins and effortlessly sealing a quarter-final place in the Champions League.
But the Reds will need to produce the performance of the season to claim a huge three points, as Klopp looks for his first Premier League triumph over United.
Klopp will restore Liverpool to full power, which means refreshed duo Virgil van Dijk and Mohamed Salah will return after rests against Porto.
But while most of the team picks itself currently, the German is faced with some crucial decisions in defence and in particular with how to shape his midfield.
- Injury boosts with Andy Robertson & Jordan Henderson both available after shaking off knocks
- Gini Wijnaldum back in training and could return to involvement
- Van Dijk & Salah poised for starting XI recalls
- Emre Can, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, James Milner & Wijnaldum battling for midfield roles
- Joel Matip & Dejan Lovren contending to partner van Dijk
- Trent Alexander-Arnold and Joe Gomez vying for right-back berth
Liverpool’s XI vs. United
Klopp made five changes for the second leg procession with Porto, as he preserved key figures for Saturday’s heavyweight showdown.
The boss could therefore make the same number of alterations, reversing the changes to bring the Reds back to full strength to take the game to Mourinho’s side.
Reenergised trio van Dijk, Alexander-Arnold and Robertson would all re-enter the back-line, with Matip, Joe Gomez and Alberto Moreno dropping out respectively.
One midfield change would see Oxlade-Chamberlain bring his driving force back to the middle of the park, joining Henderson and Can to complete an aggressive central unit.
And in attack Salah will start to reunite the Lethal Three, who will all be raring to go after each receiving a rest of sorts against Porto.
The form of certain Reds combined with the need for battling attributes in the most intense fixture of the season could lead to a slightly different selection.
Maximum size and physicality in defence is one feature required to compete against – and hopefully deny – a pacey and powerful United attack.
This could persuade Klopp to keep the taller and more defensively-minded Gomez at right-back to provide additional height from set-pieces in a game such plays could be key.
Meanwhile, Klopp could avoid change altogether in midfield by keeping Oxlade-Chamberlain on the bench and in-form Milner alongside Henderson and Can.
Klopp was full of praise for the vice-captain in his pre-match press conference, and Milner’s form as well as his experience, leadership and composure could see him preferred on such an occasion.
This selection would give the Reds a more solid and workman-like feel, and see Liverpool shape up for battle on enemy territory like this:
The fierce rivals are battling to be ‘the best of the rest’, and victory at Old Trafford would show the Reds are worthy of that status while also setting us up perfectly for a strong end to the season.