Liverpool face Chelsea in the UEFA Super Cup on Wednesday night, we take a look at Jurgen Klopp‘s lineup options for the European curtain-raiser?
The Reds’ season got off to a flying start with a convincing victory over Norwich City, but Klopp’s side were left with little time to savour the first three points of the campaign as attention swiftly turned to an all-English European affair.
Liverpool will return to Istanbul, a city which holds great significance in the club’s illustrious history, with a chance to get their hands on another piece of silverware.
This game could see some a number of changes made to the starting lineup, especially if Klopp opts to rotate a little ahead of a trip to Southampton in the Premier League on Saturday.
Here we run through the players pushing for a starting place, those who are under pressure, as well as updates from the medical room.
Get Them In
The Reds have taken to the field with same starting XI against both Man City in the Community Shield and in the Premier League opener with Norwich, but which players are best placed to change that?
The obvious inclusion for Wednesday’s game, bar the situation in goal, would be Sadio Mane after he was held back at Anfield having only returned to training four days prior.
He made an instant impression when he replaced Divock Origi with a third of the second half remaining, quickly following in the footsteps of fellow attackers Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino in finding his touch in no time at all.
And Liverpool’s No. 10 would no doubt cause alarm bells to ring in a Chelsea side who suffered a heavy defeat at the hands of Man United over the weekend.
Moreover, after lamenting the need for a sustained creative spark in the middle of the field the game could provide the perfect platform for either Naby Keita or Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain to make their mark.
The pair were unused substitutes against the Canaries but could provide a different dynamic and the drive from deep to establish a greater connection to the forward line.
If you look further down the line, Rhian Brewster and Harvey Elliott continued to put their hands up for future contention after featuring for the under-23s, and with 12 substitute places available one or even both of them could find themselves on the bench on Wednesday.
Under the Cosh
It would be unnecessary to make any sweeping changes based purely on performance levels as it’s still early days and as such creases are still being ironed out.
However, you could make an argument that Gini Wijnaldum is the man in the most precarious position.
He was the quietest of the three midfielders across the field of play and on transition struggled to disrupt Norwich’s forward movement.
The Dutchman has previously been guilty of floating through games with little effect and while few can dispute the influence he has at his peak, the gap between his best and worst needs bridging if he is to keep the likes of Keita and Oxlade-Chamberlain from causing a shift in midfield.
The Reds’ medical room does not have many occupants at this current stage, but the knowledge that Liverpool’s No.1 is need of time on the side-lines is not welcome news.
Klopp confirmed on Monday that Alisson is set to be out of action “for the next few weeks” with a calf injury, meaning Adrian will step into his position for the foreseeable future – which has previously reported to be within the three to six week mark should the Brazilian avoid any setbacks.
The uncertainty and lack of options in between the sticks, with youngster Caoimhin Kelleher still in need of match practice after sustaining a hand injury in pre-season, will see Liverpool turn to Andy Lonergan on a short-term deal to add depth to the depleted goalkeeping ranks.
Elsewhere, Nathaniel Clyne and Paul Glatzel remain on the long-term injury list after each suffered an anterior cruciate ligament injury during the summer.
The opportunity to pick up another piece of silverware ensures this fixture is one not to take lightly, so for that reason we could expect only a handful of potential changes.
Klopp, though, has hinted at having one eye on that Southampton match, saying: “We need to think about the Southampton game, we come back on Thursday and two days later we play Southampton, so we cannot ignore that game as well.
“It’s not too cool to think about the next game really before you play the first one, but you can’t ignore it.
“We have to see but it’s more about that we are early in the season, a lot of players made a good impression in pre-season [and some] came back late, so that’s all good.
“We have opportunities and I think we will use a few of them just to bring fresh legs, to show immediately that we can play good football in different line-ups and stuff like this. So yes, there will be a few changes I think.”
The boss has hinted that Mane will get his first start of the season, saying that the Reds’ No. 10 is “ready” and that seems like a straightforward swap with Origi on the left.
The sole change that should be made in midfield is Keita in place of Wijnaldum.
The Guinean looks set to stamp his mark at Liverpool this season and a nod in this European showpiece will only boost his confidence further.
Knowing Klopp, however, it wouldn’t be out of character to see him turn to the ever-reliable James Milner instead, but the more game time the combination of Fabinho, Henderson and Keita receive the better.
While certainly not under pressure, Joe Gomez could make way for the return of Joel Matip in what would be the only other change to the team who comfortably dispatched Norwich.
He’s still working through some rustiness as you would expect after a prolonged period out of the starting lineup due to injury.
And while there are no doubts that he should be the first-choice partner for Virgil van Dijk this season, we finally have some depth at centre-back and we should use it.
Potential Liverpool starting XI: Adrian; Trent, Matip, Van Dijk, Robertson; Fabinho, Henderson, Keita; Salah, Mane, Firmino