Key Reds restored, Lovren on standby – Predicting Liverpool’s lineup vs. Chelsea

Jurgen Klopp is sweating on Virgil van Dijk’s fitness as the boss looks to restore Liverpool to full strength for Saturday’s Premier League clash at Chelsea.

Exacting revenge on the Blues and preserving the perfect Premier League start is Liverpool’s aim after losing for the first time this season in midweek.

Klopp rotated his team for the League Cup loss, preserving first choice picks for this more important league meeting which marks the first of three huge games over the next eight days.

It’s safe to assume those key men rested will be recalled in attempt to return to winning ways and extend the early gap at the top of the table.

However, a big concern presents with van Dijk, who is a doubt with a rib injury sustained against Southampton last weekend.

So here is how Liverpool’s starting XI could look with and without the world-class centre-back.


The Reds to be recalled

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, September 22, 2018: Liverpool's Mohamed Salah (#11) celebrates scoring the third goal with team-mate Roberto Firmino during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Southampton FC at Anfield. (Pic by Jon Super/Propaganda)

It’s no secret that Klopp will recall his big guns and specifically those rested for Saturday’s heavyweight clash.

The boss will desperately hope – along with the entire fan base – Van Dijk is included.

Alisson will return in goal and Trent Alexander-Arnold, Joe Gomez and Andy Robertson are all set to reconvene.

The three amigos Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino will come back into attack.

After being rested for the cup tie, Gini Wijnaldum is certain to start in midfield.

Fighting for starts

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Wednesday, September 26, 2018: Liverpool's Dejan Lovren during the pre-match warm-up before the Football League Cup 3rd Round match between Liverpool FC and Chelsea FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Few of those given chances to shine in the League Cup seized their moment but a number of Reds will be hoping for the nod from Klopp.

Joel Matip and Dejan Lovren are battling to be the man chosen to replace Van Dijk if he does miss out.

Jordan Henderson, James Milner and Naby Keita are all competing for two midfield places alongside Wijnaldum.

Fabinho will hope for the chance to build on his full debut but will likely feature among the subs.

Xherdan Shaqiri will be hoping successive eye-catching displays earn him a third straight start.

Daniel Sturridge will hope back-to-back goal-scoring outings convince Klopp to give him a chance on the Premier League stage.

It’s likely the two attackers will also drop back to the bench however.


The potential lineups

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, May 13, 2018: Liverpool's Virgil van Dijk during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Brighton & Hove Albion FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

All connected with the Reds will pray Van Dijk recovers, and if the centre-back does then the team will be back to full strength in all areas.

The selection can then be pieced together with it safe to assume the other seven rested Reds will all return.

Alisson, Alexander-Arnold, Gomez and Robertson will join van Dijk to reunite the first choice defence.

Salah and Firmino will link up with Mane to restore full fire power to the front line and in midfield the refreshed Wijnaldum will start.

It’s just a question of who from Henderson, Milner and Keita join the Dutchman, and it seems simple when reading between the lines of Klopp’s changes in the League Cup loss.

Neither Henderson nor Milner played all of the game whereas Keita did.

And that the skipper replaced his understudy on the hour-mark spoke volumes, with this clearly a substitution designed to ensure both are fresh for Saturday.

So a Henderson-Wijnaldum-Milner midfield looks nailed on; an understandable choice given previous success the energetic trio has had in disrupting big opponents, most recently seen against PSG.

Everything rests on Van Dijk’s fitness but there remains a realistic chance that the £75million man is unavailable.

Matip and Lovren present the go-to options and both will be hoping for the chance to prove their capabilities as part of the new-look defensive unit

There are reasons for starting both but Lovren, historically the first choice pick, could get the gig now he is game ready having completed his first 90 minutes of the season in midweek.

That potentially enforced alteration to the changes planned would mean this Liverpool side take on Chelsea:

Wednesday’s cup loss was disappointing but the Reds must move on swiftly and bounce back to winning ways to keep momentum building for the more important title surge.

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