Winning team to remain or midfield rotation to come? – Predicting Liverpool’s lineup vs. Watford

23 November 2018

Jurgen Klopp could stick with a winning team for Liverpool’s clash with Watford but a near-full squad gives plenty of options for change – especially in midfield.


Victory over Fulham last time out seems a long time ago, but the Reds will want to pick up from where they off before the break with another three points.

The good news is that those who featured for their national teams have seemingly all come through unscathed, meaning practically a full squad is at Klopp’s disposal for the Vicarage Road trip.

That also means there are some tough selection dilemmas to figure out, especially as Klopp attempts to balance selection carefully with two huge games looming against PSG and Everton.

So how could Liverpool’s starting XI look at Vicarage Road?

 

Strong Squad Available

Klopp has a near-full squad to select from, only incomplete due to Adam Lallana being ruled out with a minor issue.

Another concern came with Jordan Henderson, but Klopp confirmed the captain is “ready to play” after a hamstring scare and in contention for a starting role.

James Milner is also pushing for a start, while Fabinho, Gini Wijnaldum and fit-again Naby Keita hand Klopp a very strong midfield to pick from.

An unchanged defence could feature, but Dejan Lovren is available if Klopp decides to rotate at centre-back as seen throughout the season.

Sadio Mane, Xherdan Shaqiri, Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah could all keep their places after doing the business against Fulham.

The use of the new ‘Fab Four’ will most likely depend on the formation Klopp deploys however.

And this presents the biggest question for the boss who will decide between the attacking-minded 4-2-3-1 or more solid 4-3-3.

 

The Potential Lineups

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, August 25, 2018: Liverpool's captain James Milner during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Brighton & Hove Albion FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

A very strong squad may be available but it’s difficult to see Klopp making too many changes given the restricted opportunity to work on formations and tactics in the break.

As a result, the boss could keep things relatively simple by trusting the same team which started the Fulham win to use that positive form and momentum to deliver again.

It would mean the attacking 4-2-3-1 set-up is retained, which would ensure Liverpool have the full power attack in operation for a must-win game.

Indeed, the new ‘Fab Four’ would all continue, with Shaqiri playing from the right and Mane from the left to leave Firmino as No.10 supporting out-and-out striker Salah.

A stable central unit is needed to provide the platform for the quartet to shine and it would be delivered by Fabinho and Wijnaldum again.

Liverpool’s strongest defence would be kept together, with Trent Alexander-Arnold, Joe Gomez, Virgil van Dijk and Andy Robertson protecting Alisson.

The nature of the situation – with two huge games after the trip to Hertfordshire and the need for the squad to be ready for a demanding run – means that we could see some rotation at play.

This could come with changes to both personnel and system, as Klopp looks to count on a fully-fit and in-form collective for 11 games in 41 days.

4-3-3 has still been preferred over the adventurous 4-2-3-1 away from Anfield, and that could be the case again on Saturday to ensure of extra solidity against a physical Watford side.

It would prompt a reshuffle in all departments, with the midfield again providing Klopp’s most interesting selection.

The tried-and-tested Henderson-Wijnadum-Milner trio could be deployed for what will be a battle at Vicarage Road, preserving Fabinho for PSG and keeping Keita for as and when needed.

Further adjustment could come in defence where the theme of greater physicality could be added to by introducing Lovren alongside Van Dijk and moving Gomez to right-back.

One of the new ‘Fab Four’ would disappointingly miss out though, and that could be Shaqiri in order to keep him fresh for a big night in Paris.

Saturday’s clash at Vicarage Road is the first fixture of a key run of games for the Reds, and Klopp’s side must start as they mean to go on by winning a crucial three points.

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