Same XI again or a first start for Shaqiri? – Predicting Liverpool’s lineup vs. Brighton

24 August 2018

Jurgen Klopp faces an interesting decision on whether to stick with a winning Liverpool team or make changes in midfield for Saturday’s clash with Brighton.


It may have been only the second game of the season but victory at Crystal Palace felt like a big result for the Reds.

The next task is to back up that excellent win with another against the Seagulls to maintain the early pace with the front-runners.

Klopp opted for an unchanged side at Selhurst Park and it paid off as the same XI that blitzed West Ham showed another side by grinding out a crucial three points.

Those Reds are certainly in command of the starting shirts right now and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see the same team trusted to deliver again.

But after an intense, physical battle at Selhurst Park, and with complacency needing to be avoided at all costs, Klopp has suggested he could freshen up his team at Anfield.

So what changes could the German make and how could Liverpool’s starting XI look against Brighton?

 

Unchanged Squad Available

ANN ARBOR, USA - Friday, July 27, 2018: Liverpool's manager Jürgen Klopp speaks to his players before a training session ahead of the preseason International Champions Cup match between Manchester United FC and Liverpool FC at the Michigan Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

No fresh injury concerns means only long-term and known absentees in Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Rhian Brewster and Dejan Lovren are missing.

Therefore the same squad that was available for the Palace trip is again at Klopp’s disposal.

The 11 Reds who have started the first two wins could all keep their places once again at Anfield.

However, Jordan Henderson, Xherdan Shaqiri and Daniel Sturridge are all pushing for starts.

The likes of Adam Lallana, Joel Matip, Alberto Moreno and Nathaniel Clyne also present further options.

And Fabinho could return to the matchday fold at Anfield after being left out against Palace.

 

The Potential Lineups

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Tuesday, August 7, 2018: Liverpool's new signing Xherdan Shaqiri after the preseason friendly match between Liverpool FC and Torino FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The chosen XI have done the business in the opening two games, so Klopp has every reason to stick with what has worked so impressively for a third successive match.

Those players certainly deserve to keep their places, and with confidence and form building nicely at this early stage there is little reason to disrupt the unit which has hit the ground running.

A lot can be said for consistency and continuity in selection and it has clearly helped the Reds make a fast start—with Liverpool reaping the benefits of certain pre-season partnerships being retained.

So given the success of performances and results so far it would be no surprise if Klopp did indeed name an unchanged team and trust the same men to make it nine points from nine:

When asked in his press conference on the possibility of another unchanged lineup, Klopp said “I don’t think it makes sense only to stick to a team because we won,” before highlighting the quality in the squad.

This could have been said purely to keep Chris Hughton guessing, but it suggests change may arrive for the first time this season to keep things fresh after a tough battle at Palace.

It’s hard to see where any switches would be made in defence or attack, with those units picking themselves, but rotation could come in midfield.

Henderson is the most likely to enter after back-to-back sub appearances and could replace Gini Wijnaldum as No. 6.

It also seems the ideal game to give Shaqiri his first start and he could replace James Milner to offer another natural attacking option in a game the Reds will have to break a stubborn, deep-sitting defence.

With a refreshed midfield this is how Liverpool would line up at Anfield:

After two excellent wins Liverpool can ill afford to show any complacency, and the Reds will have to produce another big performance to ensure the three points stay on Merseyside.

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