A wave of injuries has left Jurgen Klopp with a threadbare squad but simple selection for Liverpool’s Champions League quarter-final against Man City.
A huge week for the Reds explodes into life as Anfield hosts the first instalment of a mouth-watering last-eight tie with the champions-in-waiting.
Klopp’s side arrive with winning momentum after a vital victory at Crystal Palace, but only a perfect performance will be enough to earn a crucial advantage against Pep Guardiola’s team.
The Reds’ task has been made even harder by a flood of injuries ravaging the squad just as Klopp and his team prepare for the biggest game of the season so far.
As a result Klopp’s selection will practically be forced, but some fresh legs are at least set to be introduced in defence and midfield for what will be an intense first leg.
- Options to freshen starting XI limited as injuries mount
- Joel Matip the latest absentee with thigh injury ending centre-back’s season
- Adam Lallana out for “a number of weeks” with hamstring injury
- Emre Can recovering from back issue but not available for first leg
- Ragnar Klavan and Joe Gomez also ruled out meaning Dejan Lovren to start
- Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain pushing for midfield spot
- Nathaniel Clyne available but unlikely to feature
Liverpool’s XI vs. City
An already challenging week has been made even harder by the wave of injuries, and this forces Klopp’s selection in almost every area for Wednesday’s showdown.
Indeed, Matip’s absence means change will come at centre-back where Lovren will partner Van Dijk, leaving the setup of midfield as the only area up for debate.
Here Klopp has the ‘luxury’ of four fit options, and the boss is likely to freshen things up by utilising the increasingly precious fresh legs at his disposal.
Oxlade-Chamberlain is the man who has them and he should enter to provide the power and attacking thrust that shone in his man-of-the-match display in the 4-3 league win over City.
With regards to who makes way, Wijnaldum’s recent return from illness could see the Dutchman’s action managed, with two starts in such quick succession possibly a task too far.
There’s precious little room for manoeuvre for Klopp, with no further defensive changes likely due to Andy Robertson’s form, no available centre-backs and Clyne’s lack of football.
This leaves the only alternative for Klopp to consider being fielding a slightly different midfield unit.
Oxlade-Chamberlain will start but Milner rather than Wijnaldum could drop out, which would see the Reds start that bit closer to the trio that dominated the January league win at Anfield.
It’s a huge shame that an injury crisis has hit and left the Reds so severely under-strength going into such a key game.
A monstrous effort will be required from Klopp’s side and a special Anfield atmosphere will be needed to help carry the Reds to a crucial first-leg advantage.