Milner & Shaqiri to relieve fitness concerns – Predicting Liverpool’s lineup vs. Huddersfield

19 October 2018

Liverpool travel to Huddersfield Town on Saturday with a host of question marks over Jurgen Klopp‘s team selection, and the possibility of changes increased.


After the rigours of seven high-profile games in 23 days, followed by an arduous international break, the Reds are back in domestic action this weekend.

Making the short trip across to Huddersfield, the title hunt will continue with an interesting backdrop, as Klopp and his best man, David Wagner, meet again.

The pair have lavished praise on each other in the buildup to Saturday’s clash at the John Smith’s Stadium, but when their sides take to the field there will be no love lost.

Liverpool and the Terriers head into the weekend at opposite ends of the table, but Wagner could spot an opening due to a series of fitness concerns hampering Klopp’s squad.

The new-found depth at the manager’s disposal can be tested, however, which could set supporters up for a surprise ahead of kickoff.

So how could the Reds line up as they take on Huddersfield on Saturday?

 

Injuries & Options

Speaking at his pre-match press conference on Friday, Klopp confirmed Naby Keita is set to miss out due to a hamstring injury picked up on Guinea duty.

There are also concerns over the fitness of Sadio Mane, who required surgery on his hand after suffering a suspected broken thumb while with the Senegal squad.

But Virgil van Dijk, James Milner and Mohamed Salah all returned to training in midweek, boosting Klopp’s options as he plans for rotation.

“Now we have games where we will probably have more possession than we had in all the other games,” he told LiverpoolFC.com earlier on Friday.

“So we have to think about something different and can use the players a bit more, which we try to do of course, but it all depends who is fit and who is not fit.”

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Tuesday, August 7, 2018: Liverpool's Adam Lallana, with a streak of dyed blonde hair, during the preseason friendly match between Liverpool FC and Torino FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

One of those back available is Adam Lallana, though Klopp suggested at Melwood that he was still unsure when the midfielder would return to his side.

Both Xherdan Shaqiri and Daniel Sturridge are pushing for starts, while Klopp claimed Fabinho is “very close” to his first Premier League minutes.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Rhian Brewster are Klopp’s only long-term absentees.

 

Potential Lineups vs. Huddersfield

Klopp Shaqiri (Photo: John Walton/PA Wire. )

Given his relationship with Terriers manager Wagner, Klopp has been eager to stress that Saturday’s hosts cannot be underestimated.

And while he is clearly open to rotation after Liverpool’s intense seven-game run, he is unlikely to opted for many changes despite the fallout from the international break.

Alisson will keep his place in goal, and a fully fit Van Dijk can join Trent Alexander-Arnold, Joe Gomez and Andy Robertson in defence.

In midfield, Jordan Henderson missed England’s 3-2 victory over Spain due to suspension, and should therefore be considered in prime condition to start at the John Smith’s Stadium.

The captain can be joined by Milner and Georginio Wijnaldum, with the Reds’ No. 7 seemingly ready after a remarkable recovery from a hamstring injury.

In attack, a broken thumb should not keep Mane from action, but as Liverpool’s most-used player it may be wise to rest him regardless, and Shaqiri should take his place alongside Salah and Roberto Firmino:

If Milner isn’t deemed fit enough to start, however, Klopp could opt to field Shaqiri in the middle of the park instead.

And if that is the case, the manager would be wise to consider handing Fabinho his league debut to provide stability in the defensive midfield role, alongside the impressive Wijnaldum.

The issue with shifting Shaqiri back into midfield is that, with Mane overworked, Liverpool would be short of an option in attack.

That, however, is where Liverpool’s Player of the Month for September comes in, with Klopp previously expressing confidence that Sturridge can operate alongside Firmino.

With Firmino moving out to the opposite flank to Salah, Liverpool would line up like this on Saturday:

It is likely that Klopp remains cautious with his setup in West Yorkshire, particularly due to his respect for Wagner and Huddersfield.

But injuries could force his hand to an extent, and as he predicts a game in which Liverpool will be provided more control, shaking up his system could give Saturday’s visitors the edge.

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