LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Wednesday, October 2, 2019: Liverpool's Naby Keita during the UEFA Champions League Group E match between Liverpool FC and FC Salzburg at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Keita to return in strongest available XI? – Predicting Liverpool’s lineup vs. Chelsea

Liverpool face Chelsea in their final home match of the 2019/20 season and given the events after the match, Jurgen Klopp will want a good performance and win.

It has been an incredible campaign for the club once again, culminating in the Premier League finally being won.

A natural drop-off in form and results has been seen since the title was confirmed, but it would be great to wrap matters up on home soil with a victory over Chelsea as the Reds will have their trophy-lift party at full-time.

It won’t come easily, though, as the Blues are chasing their own milestone for the season of qualifying for the Champions League, with little margin for error.

To that end, it can be expected that Klopp will go strong for the starting lineup, with a change or two probable from the side which suffered defeat at Arsenal a week ago.


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A nice break between games has allowed players to recover from any knocks or strains from that fixture, which saw Xherdan Shaqiri set foot on the pitch for the first time in an age and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain handed a start in midfield.

Joel Matip and Jordan Henderson are out for the season and so won’t be considered for the lineup, though there are some fans out there still hoping for Henderson to be in the matchday squad.

That could see him come on for the final minute or so, not getting involved in the play of course, but to be on the pitch ahead of lifting the trophy—just as was seen in Greece last season.

James Milner missed the Arsenal game with a knock but should be fit to return to the squad here.


Liverpool’s XI vs. Chelsea

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Wednesday, June 24, 2020: Liverpool’s Virgil van Dijk during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Crystal Palace FC at Anfield. The game was played behind closed doors due to the UK government’s social distancing laws during the Coronavirus COVID-19 Pandemic. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Previous games have seen a couple of rotations each time, notably with a few of the forwards and full-backs getting a game out of the starting 11 in turn.

That came to an end at the Emirates, with a full-strength lineup, and the same can be expected here.

The defeat essentially came as a result of defensive errors, but even with their mistakes on the night there’s no question Alisson and Virgil van Dijk remain immense players, the best in the world in their respective positions—and their mentalities will probably see them respond with big performances here.

Ahead of them, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain struggled to influence the game at Arsenal and could be replaced by Naby Keita, who has been the most in-form midfielder for the Reds since the restart.

The front three can be expected to be the front three.

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

It might be party night, but that won’t be the case until after a hard-fought game, so forget any ideas of starting three kids, playing the backups or whatever else.

But Klopp might be tempted to make another change or two, with his reactionary subs against Arsenal providing a clue.

Keita was first on as part of a double substitution when the Reds were trying to get back into the game—and he entered along with Takumi Minamino.

The Japanese forward hasn’t yet had a big chance to impact from the start on a regular basis, but his work rate, movement and link-up play have shown hints as to why he’s thought to be a good attacking option in this side.

Klopp turning to him first last week maybe hints that he’s extremely close, and his chance to start a meaningful match could come here.

Alisson; Trent, Gomez, Van Dijk, Robertson; Fabinho, Keita, Wijnaldum; Salah, Minamino, Mane.

Nothing, not even a hammering, will dampen what comes next. But it would be great to head into the trophy lift and Anfield afterparty on the back of a strong showing and three more points.

The Reds will have to be at their best, but we already know we’re better than the rest—so let’s hope they go out and show it across the final 90 home minutes of our title-winning season.