Liverpool could make at least nine changes to his lineup as Liverpool return to FA Cup action on Tuesday night, with youth and fringe players taking on Chelsea.
Saturday was a frustrating day for the Reds, as they found themselves humiliated with a 3-0 loss at Watford.
After the game, Virgil van Dijk claimed “the only positive might be that we have an FA Cup game in a couple of days again,” and this does provide Liverpool with a change of pace.
With pressure to perform in both the Premier League and Champions League, Klopp has used the domestic cups to rotate his side this season, and the FA Cup has proved positive so far.
Though it will not be the side that overcame Shrewsbury in their fourth-round replay, Liverpool should have a youthful element to them at Stamford Bridge.
Here’s how they could line up, with academy products and senior players in need of minutes coming in.
Injuries & Changes
Klopp provided some good news in his pre-match press conference as both Joe Gomez and James Milner have recovered from minor injuries and are fit to take part.
None of Jordan Henderson, Naby Keita or Xherdan Shaqiri are available, however, as they remain on the sidelines, while Harvey Elliott is with the under-19s for the UEFA Youth League.
Neco Williams, Ki-Jana Hoever and Curtis Jones have remained in England, and should be in the FA Cup squad, though the Welshman has been struggling with a minor injury.
Speaking at Melwood on Monday, Klopp indicated that his side would be closer to the first tie at Shrewsbury than the replay, which saw Neil Critchley field the club’s youngest-ever XI.
“From the Shrewsbury team for sure there will be boys in the squad, and who will start then, we will see,” he said.
“It’s a different situation than it was in the last round.
“If you see the team who played at Shrewsbury, that was actually an FA Cup team for us in that moment.”
Therefore, the likes of Adrian, Joel Matip, Adam Lallana, Pedro Chirivella, Divock Origi and Takumi Minamino can be hopeful of minutes against high-level opposition.
Liverpool’s Starting XI vs. Chelsea
Klopp’s assertion that the side that drew 2-2 at Shrewsbury in January was “an FA Cup team for us” suggests it will be similar for the Reds on Tuesday night.
That means Adrian will reprise his role as FA Cup goalkeeper, while there could be experience in defence, which could well see Dejan Lovren keep his place despite a torrid evening at Watford last time around.
With Van Dijk rested, and Gomez given more time to rest as he his first choice, Lovren could be partnered by Matip at centre-back, with Williams and Milner fielded at full-back.
Chirivella’s availability in the No. 6 role is particularly useful, and he could provide a platform for Lallana and Jones to press and create.
Shaqiri’s injury and Elliott’s absence could see one of Klopp’s usual front three retained, and it makes sense for that to be Mohamed Salah, allowing Origi to take up his settled role on the left and Minamino to replace Roberto Firmino up front.
This would ensure nine changes to the side from Vicarage Road, and see Liverpool line up like this:
Adrian; Williams, Matip, Lovren, Milner; Chirivella, Lallana, Jones; Salah, Origi, Minamino
It is not necessary to start either Lovren or Salah, however, and it is entirely possible that Klopp will allow the pair to rest along with the remainder of his side from the weekend.
This would require a rejig in defence, midfield and attack, while concerns over Williams’ fitness could provide Hoever a start at right-back.
The Dutchman could join Gomez, Matip and Adam Lewis ahead of Adrian, with Milner moving into midfield to join Chirivella and Lallana in a dynamic, experienced trio.
Milner’s presence in midfield could then see Jones shifted to the left flank, with Minamino on the right and Origi providing a physical presence in the No. 9 role.
That would mean wholesale changes for the Reds, and would allow them to set up as below:
Adrian; Hoever, Gomez, Matip, Lewis; Chirivella, Lallana, Milner; Minamino, Jones, Origi
Despite the strength of their opponent on Tuesday night, with a league clash with Bournemouth to come on Saturday followed by the Champions League last-16 decider at home to Atletico Madrid next Wednesday, this fixture is undoubtedly third priority.
It should be seen as a chance to respond to defeat at Watford, but with new faces in the side, as Klopp rewards those waiting in the wings with another opportunity to impress.