Jurgen Klopp will restore his Liverpool team to full strength against Arsenal, which could see Xherdan Shaqiri recalled into an attacking lineup.
Klopp, somewhat surprisingly, rotated his team against Cardiff last time out and it did the trick, earning a 4-1 win at Anfield.
While the changes worked against Neil Warnock’s strugglers, you can be sure the Reds will be back to full strength against the in-form Gunners on Saturday evening.
What ‘full-strength’ is, however, is becoming increasingly hard to define, given the recent form displayed by all players used and the success in various formations in matches of late.
It’s by no means a straightforward selection for Klopp and here we take a look at the possible lineups.
Unchanged Squad & Competition For Places
Klopp confirmed in his press conference that Jordan Henderson and Naby Keita are both still missing with hamstring issues.
But there was good news with Mohamed Salah, who is fine to play despite suffering tendon inflammation in his wrist.
This means Klopp has an unchanged squad at his disposal and there is plenty of competition for places.
The XI which started the 4-1 win over Cardiff will all hope to keep their spots, especially the fringe players introduced: Alberto Moreno, Dejan Lovren and Adam Lallana.
But those who dropped out for the incoming trio—Joe Gomez, Andy Robertson and Xherdan Shaqiri—seem primed for recalls.
3 key questions:
- 4-3-3 or 4-2-3-1?
- Trent & Gomez, or Gomez & Lovren?
- Milner or Shaqiri?
Elsewhere, fully fit James Milner could come into consideration in midfield, especially if Klopp changes formation.
Indeed, the biggest call facing the German is undoubtedly with whether to stick with the successful 4-2-3-1 system or revert to the trusted 4-3-3.
Liverpool’s Potential Lineup
As mentioned, the key decision facing Klopp comes in how to set the Reds up on Saturday evening.
Should the 4-2-3-1 that has revived Liverpool’s attacking excellence be kept, or is 4-3-3 a safer option for a tough away fixture?
Though the form guide would suggest otherwise, this seems a good time to play Arsenal given their long list of absences and with their injury-stricken defence in mind.
This, combined with the Reds’ recent impressive displays, could persuade Klopp to show no mercy and unleash his full attack on the Gunners from the off.
This would come by retaining 4-2-3-1 and reintroducing Shaqiri on the right of the attack to reform the new Fab Four, with Sadio Mane on the left, Roberto Firmino as No. 10 and Salah up top.
Gini Wijnaldum and Fabinho would again operate as the double six in midfield, but further alterations would come in defence.
Robertson is certain to be restored at left-back in place of Moreno, while Gomez should also be recalled after a rest.
Right-back is a possibility for the England defender, with Lovren alongside Virgil van Dijk, but it would be much more preferable to see Gomez partner the Dutchman and Trent Alexander-Arnold continue.
The three changes made against Cardiff would therefore be reversed, leaving the Reds with this XI:
The other possibility is that Klopp takes the more controlled approach that has defined the season so far by reverting to the tried-and-trusted 4-3-3.
The key difference would be that Milner enters instead of Shaqiri into the third midfield role alongside Fabinho and Wijnaldum, giving the Reds a high-energy, industrious central unit.
With the Swiss held in reserve to provide some magic from the bench, the front three will boast a familiar look with Mane and Salah flanking Firmino, No. 9 in shirt number and position.
A slight change could come in defence as the more defence-focused Gomez could slot in at right-back over Alexander-Arnold, with Lovren partnering Van Dijk.
Both lineups present strong options for Klopp and the most pleasing aspect from them is the tactical flexibility the boss now has available.
But most importantly, each selection has the necessary quality to claim a fourth straight win and ensure a big three points return to Merseyside.