Jurgen Klopp can be expected to rotate as he aims to avoid fatigue in Liverpool’s midweek trip to Burnley in the Premier League on Wednesday.
The Reds take to Turf Moor on the back of an uplifting 1-0 win over Everton on Sunday, but coming just three days after the Merseyside derby this clash could prove tricky.
Regardless, with the 19th-placed Clarets having played on Saturday and with Klopp calling upon a stronger squad this season, there is plenty of cause for optimism.
Klopp may be forced to make some alterations to his starting lineup in Lancashire due to fitness issues, however.
But, on a positive slant, this will provide opportunities for those—like the weekend’s goalscorer, Divock Origi—who have been waiting patiently in the wings.
So how could Liverpool shape up for their visit to the relegation candidates?
Speaking at his pre-match press conference on Tuesday afternoon, Klopp confirmed that both Andy Robertson and Sadio Mane were facing late fitness tests.
He explained that while Robertson was “not that serious,” Mane had suffered “a really awful cut on his foot,” which suggests that the winger, at least, would miss out against Burnley.
Another player who could be omitted is Roberto Firmino, with Klopp acknowledging a drop in form from his No. 9, though the manager insisted it was “nothing to worry about.”
Both Origi and Daniel Sturridge are available as alternatives, as is Dominic Solanke, though the manager explained that long-term absentee Rhian Brewster is “not close enough” in his recovery.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain will also miss out, while it is likely Adam Lallana will do so too.
The prospect of rotation comes at an interesting time, with Burnley languishing just above the bottom of the table, and the likes of Joel Matip, Alberto Moreno and Naby Keita could come in.
Jordan Henderson will also be considered, having sat out of the derby through suspension.
Possible Lineups at Turf Moor
With a trip to Bournemouth to come on Saturday, followed by high-profile clashes with Napoli and Man United to come next week, it seems the right decision to omit Mane on Wednesday.
Having required stitches for the foot injury sustained in the derby, it would be wise to allow the No. 10 to recover fully for the Champions League decider.
Similarly, a relatively ‘easy’ clash with a troubled Burnley side could be the right time to rest Robertson and Firmino, who are among Klopp’s most-used players so far this season.
Moreno provides a like-for-like replacement for Robertson at left-back, and could slot in alongside the rest of Klopp’s regular defence.
Leaving out both Mane and Firmino could require a shift back to a 4-3-3 formation, with Naby Keita the obvious candidate to provide thrust in the three-man midfield.
Klopp could also opt to bring in a rested James Milner, with he, Keita and Gini Wijnaldum proving a successful trio in the early weeks of the season.
And it may be tempting to start Origi after his derby-day heroics, the more sensible, tested option would be Daniel Sturridge:
Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Gomez, Van Dijk, Moreno; Wijnaldum, Milner, Keita; Salah, Shaqiri, Sturridge
If Klopp were to retain the 4-2-3-1, however, he may be required to experiment with his attacking options in support of Salah up front.
Instead of deploying Milner and Keita in a more traditional midfield unit, they could instead be pushed further upfield alongside Xherdan Shaqiri.
If so, the returning Henderson could take his place alongside Fabinho in the “double six” midfield Klopp suggested when discussing the possibility of starting both during pre-season.
And with further changes available at the back, either Matip or Dejan Lovren could slot in at centre-back, with Gomez potentially moving across to right-back.
This would, in theory, provide a solution to Burnley‘s physical approach, though it can certainly be argued that the centre-back pairing of Gomez and Van Dijk should not be disrupted:
Alisson; Gomez, Matip, Van Dijk, Moreno; Fabinho, Henderson; Milner, Keita, Shaqiri; Salah
This fixture proves to be one of the least straightforward Klopp has faced so far this season in terms of team selection, as though changes are necessary it is debatable how many.
But given Burnley‘s difficult start to the season, and the quality throughout the Liverpool squad, there should be more than enough for Liverpool to target a comfortable win at Turf Moor.