Key duo to return – Predicting Liverpool’s lineup vs. Crystal Palace

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Jurgen Klopp is expected to make a number of changes as Liverpool return to Anfield for the first time in 106 days.

With two key players having been under an injury cloud heading into the clash at Everton, the boss was unable to field the strongest back five combination or reunite the prolific front three.

But further considerations are to be made on personnel in the aftermath of the stalemate at Goodison Park, with the Reds now five points away from clinching the title.

Finding their rhythm and building momentum to use for the remainder of the season and to take into the next which will follow soon after will be of top priority, as Liverpool have just two wins from their last seven in all competitions.

With a few injuries to consider and rotation likely to come into play, here’s a look at how Klopp could set up his side at Anfield for the clash.

 

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LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, March 7, 2020: Liverpool's Mohamed Salah during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and AFC Bournemouth at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The Reds restarted their campaign with few injury concerns, with the club erring on the side of caution for both Mohamed Salah and Andy Robertson – the latter of whom did not make the final matchday squad on Sunday.

They are to return at the first time of asking, however, as the boss confirmed they both “trained yesterday completely normal” and were expected to do the same on Tuesday.

But Robertson’s deputy in James Milner succumbed to a hamstring strain in the first half, with Klopp having hoped it was “not serious”, while Joel Matip followed him to the treatment room in the second with a big toe complaint.

Neither are to be available against Palace as the club still “have to figure out exactly how long it will take” for them to return.

The way in which the players have succumbed to their injuries to date is not currently a cause for concern for Klopp due to the three-month break and the changes and demands surrounding their return.

“There will be injuries, 100 percent,” Klopp said. “We all have to make sure the boys are in the best possible shape.”

Matip and Milner join Xherdan Shaqiri and Curtis Jones as the Reds’ notable absentees for Palace’s visit, leaving space for the likes of Yasser Larouci, Adam Lallana and Ki-Jana Hoever to stake a claim for a role on the bench.

And with the encounter coming four days after the first competitive fixture in 102 days, it would not come as a surprise to see the boss rotate players in the XI to avoid further injuries and fatigue.

 

Liverpool’s XI vs. Palace

Andy Robertson general matchday warm up, training. (Pic by Richard Roberts/Propaganda)

There’s a number of ways Klopp could go about his selection against Palace, with the return of two key players and the desire for rotation to underpin any decision.

And he could opt for his strongest side as Liverpool look to re-find their feet after the long enforced break, with the return to fitness of Salah and Robertson providing a welcome boost.

The pair were sorely missed at Everton, with the lack of dynamism, pace and delivery from two unorthodox left-backs stunting the play while Takumi Minamino is more suited to leading the line than sitting on the flank in place of Salah.

It would see a defensive contingent of Alisson, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Joe Gomez, Virgil van Dijk and Robertson feature from the off for the first time since the win over West Ham in mid-February.

In midfield, Gini Wijnaldum would take the place of Naby Keita, who did impress against the Blues, with Fabinho and Jordan Henderson retaining their places.

And Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino and Salah would be left to lead the attack in a side that looks like this:

Alisson; Trent, Gomez, Van Dijk, Robertson; Fabinho, Henderson, Wijnaldum; Salah, Mane, Firmino


Alternatively, the boss could opt for further changes across each department to inject fresh legs as the title push continues.

One could come in the form of Neco Williams in place of Trent alongside the other members of the regular defensive line, in what would be a well-earned Premier League debut.

A like-for-like swap in form of Keita for Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain would see the Englishman play in his preferred position after being deployed in the front three over the weekend.

And he would be joined by Henderson and Wijnaldum in the middle of the park, the latter of whom played in the final 25 minutes against Everton.

In attack, Origi would lineup alongside Firmino and Salah, taking over from Minamino, where he be in search of his fourth goal of the season:

Alisson; Williams, Gomez, Van Dijk, Robertson; Henderson, Wijnaldum, Ox; Salah, Firmino, Origi


The ability to name nine substitutes and use five opens the door for a number of selection options for Klopp, but any side he picks needs to get the ball rolling in terms of intensity and ruthlessness.

Palace will prove to be a stern test after winning their last four games without conceding, but Liverpool have more than enough firepower to move within two points of the title.

🏆  A collector’s item for every fan – the official LFC matchday programme for the day the Reds lift the title is available to order worldwide now.

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