Liverpool’s heavily depleted squad leaves Jurgen Klopp with an extremely difficult selection for Saturday’s Merseyside derby clash with Everton.
After adding another special European night to Anfield’s collection, Klopp’s side prepare to regroup and recompose for the small matter of the Merseyside derby.
The derby is terribly timed with all focus on the Champions League, and Klopp is facing a tricky selection after the efforts produced in midweek and with thoughts already on the quarter-final second leg at Man City.
In his pre-match press conference Klopp said “we have to line up to give us the opportunity to win the game,” suggesting a strong Reds side will feature.
But the boss could turn to his last squad members standing and even potentially some of Anfield’s upcoming talent to refresh the team at Goodison Park.
- Klopp to utilise remaining squad players & youngsters to rest key men
- Depleted squad available with Joel Matip, Ragnar Klavan, Emre Can, Adam Lallana & Ben Woodburn all out
- Mohamed Salah to be assessed but may miss out ahead of second leg
- Jordan Henderson to start with captain banned for Etihad Stadium return
- Gini Wijnaldum likely to start after beginning City win on the bench
- Nathaniel Clyne & Alberto Moreno available for full-back roles
- Klopp hints Danny Ings will start, Dominic Solanke also in contention
Liverpool’s XI vs. the Blues
Tuesday’s make-or-break second leg is undoubtedly the priority, and it makes it just a question of how heavily Klopp rotates on Saturday.
At the same time, Klopp also made clear he will not just write off such a significant fixture, labelling the derby “the most important game for the people.”
So the boss is likely to go as strong as avoidable risks and the depleted squad allows, meaning rests could come only for players in positions where experienced Reds are readily available to enter.
This would work perfectly at full-back with Clyne and Moreno available to start, but Dejan Lovren and Virgil van Dijk would have to continue with no centre-back alternative.
Wijnaldum will be fresh after playing only the second half in midweek, so the Dutchman should start to save Milner’s legs, with Henderson keeping his place.
Salah seems likely to miss out but it is also imperative Roberto Firmino is rested, so Solanke and Ings should come in, but a lack of alternatives means Sadio Mane may have to start.
A strong and competitive team also boasting a healthy five changes would look like this:
Klopp could choose to avoid as much risk as remotely possible and deploy a more makeshift side—including an exciting upcoming talent.
The boss kept his cards close to his chest on youngsters being called up, but it’s a move that should be considered given the benefits to all parties.
A host of prospects could be turned to, but midfielder Curtis Jones has really caught the eye with his progression this season and is perhaps the standout contender given his form and suitability.
The in-form local lad could be blooded in midfield, which would allow Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain to move into attack and, crucially, Mane also to be rested:
It’s hardly an ideal selection and one unlikely to transpire, but Klopp has to explore every possible avenue to ensure his side arrive at the Etihad Stadium in the best possible condition.