Milner on standby & Gomez to start? – Predicting Liverpool’s lineup vs. Napoli

16 September 2019

Liverpool will start the defence of their Champions League crown at Napoli, where Jurgen Klopp could be forced into a defensive change.


The Reds began their run of seven games in 22 days on a winning note against Newcastle over the weekend, where Klopp made a number of tweaks to his starting lineup following the conclusion of the international break.

But with few major injury considerations and the need to kickstart their European campaign on a high, Klopp could again return to his regular personnel in Italy.

Here’s how Liverpool could look to set up at the Stadio San Paolo come Tuesday evening.

 

20-Man Travelling Squad Available

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, September 14, 2019: Liverpool's Mohamed Salah (#11) celebrates scoring the third goal with team-mate Roberto Firmino during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Newcastle United FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Liverpool have named a 20-man travelling squad for the clash, with Divock Origi the notable absentee after picking up an ankle injury midway through the opening half against the Magpies.

Alisson and Naby Keita also remain back on Merseyside as they continue their respective comeback trails from injury, with the latter expected to resume training in the coming week.

Notably, Andy Robertson was absent from training at Melwood prior to the team’s departure to the continent with the boss confirming on Saturday post-match that he picked up a knock.

Klopp quickly allayed any fears by insisting he was “fine”, and it suggests his non-attendance was nothing but precautionary as he is a member of the travelling party, but doubts still surround his availability.

The German, therefore, potentially has the option to return to an XI he has consistently turned to throughout the early stages of the season.

At the back, Adrian, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Joel Matip, Virgil van Dijk and Robertson all look set to retain their place – with James Milner to deputise at left-back should he be needed.

Meanwhile, another change in midfield could be likely after the trio of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Fabinho and Gini Wijnaldum were given a run out on Saturday as skipper Jordan Henderson is set to return after being handed a rest following his international exploits with England.

With Origi absent for the clash, Rhian Brewster will take his place in the squad, where fellow attacking option Xherdan Shaqiri will also be eyeing some minutes on the park.

Should Klopp look to rotate his defence, Joe Gomez will be the man to step in at either right-back or centre-back ahead of Dejan Lovren.

 

Possible Liverpool Starting XI vs. Napoli

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, August 24, 2019: Liverpool's captain Jordan Henderson celebrates after the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Arsenal FC at Anfield. Liverpool won 3-1. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Having struggled away from home in Europe last season, losing four of six throughout the competition, the trip to Naples presents an early chance to right those wrongs.

Arguably the trickiest trip for the Reds in the group stage, the decision to field the strongest side would come as little surprise after a number of changes on Saturday.

That would mean the sole selection conundrum for the encounter would come in midfield, as has been the case in recent times.

Oxlade-Chamberlain stepped into the role against the Magpies and while Milner has also featured in the early parts of the season, the trio of Fabinho, Henderson and Gini Wijnaldum are likely to be reunited for the first time since starting in the back-to-back wins over Arsenal and Burnley.

After sitting out the entirety of the league game Henderson will come in with fresh legs and Wijnaldum’s withdrawal with six minutes left on the clock looked to be a nod to his involvement.

That would see the defensive five remain the same, with Adrian protected by Trent, Matip, Van Dijk and Robertson – on the provision he is fit.

And Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino are the undisputed first-choice trio in attack and will no double look to pick up from where they left off, having run riot at Anfield.

Adrian; Trent, Matip, Van Dijk, Robertson; Fabinho, Henderson, Wijnaldum; Salah, Mane, Firmino


Alternatively, Klopp’s hand could be forced into making a defensive change should Robertson miss out, paving the way for what would be Milner’s third start of the season.

And with the full-backs imperative to Liverpool’s style of play, Trent would then keep his place meaning Gomez could then be handed valuable minutes in his preferred position by filling-in for Matip.

With Napoli possessing pace in their attacking ranks, the inclusion of Gomez would certainly not detract anything from the right side of defence.

Moreover, Oxlade-Chamberlain could keep his place to add the forward impetus from midfield, replacing Wijnaldum in the side who has played 569 minutes of a possible 660 for Liverpool so far this season – in addition to his two starts for the Netherlands.

The skipper is again a shoo-in for a starting berth ahead of the deep-sitting Fabinho and behind his scintillating forwards.

Adrian; Trent, Gomez, Van Dijk, Milner; Fabinho, Henderson, Oxlade-Chamberlain; Salah, Mane, Firmino


With confidence high and Liverpool in the habit of winning, either lineup will be capable of getting a result against a Napoli side who have seen their defence breached seven times in just three league games.

A lot will hinge on Robertson’s availability, but only time will tell how it will dictate Klopp’s selection on the night.

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