Henderson or Lallana to complete full-strength Reds? – Predicting Liverpool’s lineup vs. Tottenham

30 March 2019

A near-full squad is at Jurgen Klopp’s disposal as Liverpool host Tottenham, but the midfield set-up once again presents the key selection dilemma.


With the last international break of the season complete, the final sprint for the Premier League title begins against Spurs at Anfield.

A heavyweight clash is far from an ideal fixture after international disruption, but every match is about finding a way to win to hold on to that precious top spot come 12 May.

The good news is that, for once, all Reds who featured in the internationals have comeback unscathed.

And even better is that options have been boosted further by certain absentees returning to fitness during the pause.

As a result, Klopp has just about a full squad available, meaning some interesting decisions with the starting XI await – particularly in midfield.

 

Near-Full Squad Available

Klopp provided a pleasing injury update in his pre-match press conference, confirming several absentees are back to full fitness.

The boss confirmed Trent Alexander-Arnold, struggling with a back problem, took part in full training suggesting he will play providing all goes well.

Xherdan Shaqiri and Naby Keita have also regained full fitness after muscle injuries, as has Jordan Henderson after an ankle injury saw him miss the Fulham win.

More good news comes with Joe Gomez, who is back in full training and close to fitness, though Sunday’s clash could come too early.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is the only man not quite ready as he recovers from a hamstring issue, but he is scheduled for a full training return next week.

A near-full squad means Klopp will have big selections decisions to make.

Adam Lallana will hope to keep his place in midfield for a third consecutive Premier League start.

After his match-winning penalty at Fulham, James Milner is in contention for a starting XI place.

Divock Origi could also come into Klopp’s thinking after another bright cameo in the Fulham win.

 

Potential Lineups vs. Spurs

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, March 3, 2019: Liverpool's captain Jordan Henderson during the FA Premier League match between Everton FC and Liverpool FC, the 233rd Merseyside Derby, at Goodison Park. (Pic by Laura Malkin/Propaganda)

Having certain absentees available again and others close to comebacks is a big boost, bolstering the squad for the pursuit of glory.

However, it’s difficult to see Klopp throwing them straight in – perhaps apart from Henderson who has proved his readiness with action for England.

The others seem set to be eased back in, which means Liverpool’s starting XI is likely to boast a similar look to recent games.

Providing Alexander-Arnold is fit, Klopp’s first-choice back-five will be in operation, with the Scouser, Joel Matip, Virgil van Dijk and Andy Robertson protecting Alisson.

Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino and a refreshed Mohamed Salah are certainties in attack, leaving the midfield as the big question.

Fabinho and Gini Wijnaldum are guaranteed starters, meaning Henderson, Milner and Lallana will all battle for the final spot – if Klopp does indeed opt against using Keita and Shaqiri instantly.

Ultimately, the skipper seems most likely to get the nod.

The above starting XI is Liverpool’s strongest and the one that seems most likely to line up on Sunday.

But getting this side out on the Anfield surface hinges on Alexander-Arnold being completely ready to play.

If the young right-back isn’t quite at 100 per-cent and Klopp takes a cautious approach as a result, Milner will be restored to deputise.

Back to the vital midfield set-up, Klopp could stick with Lallana to provide a link between midfield and attack which would be missing if Henderson started.

Keeping Lallana in would see the same central unit that started the win at Fulham deployed, with the Reds lining up like so:

For a big game against a top side it is important to have several lineup options to consider, and Klopp has that with these potential teams.

Both are strong enough to claim another priceless three points at Anfield, and that is what it is all about with the Premier League trophy now in sight.

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