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Alisson to return & Jones over Keita? – Predicting Liverpool’s lineup vs. Fulham

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While one key player is back in the mix, injury continues to limit Jurgen Klopp‘s options for the trip to Fulham on Sunday in the Premier League.

Fresh off the back of eight changes in the midweek Champions League clash against Midtjylland, the Reds find themselves in a position where they continue to count their losses.

Diogo Jota was the latest to fall to injury alongside Kostas Tsimikas in what was a dead-rubber affair amid a relentless schedule.

And the trip to Fulham is the second of four three-day turnarounds for Liverpool, with Klopp no doubt plotting the path forward despite his public insistence that Fulham have their sole focus.

It is a fixture the Reds should be confident in clinching all three points, but in there are no givens in the top-flight and Klopp’s side need to be up to the task.

 

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It’s once again a case of one returns and another succumbs to injury, with Alisson firmly back in the mix while Jota faces a period on the sidelines with a knee injury.

The Portugal international was one senior figure chosen for Wednesday’s fixture and he has paid the price to leave Liverpool anxiously awaiting the results of tests as to its severity.

It’s the fourth knee injury this season for Liverpool and the first setback to hit the attacking ranks, where Jota now joins the likes of James Milner, Xherdan Shaqiri, Thiago, Joe Gomez and Virgil van Dijk on the sidelines.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, meanwhile, is back in the fold and while Klopp expects to use him “as soon as possible” due to injuries elsewhere, Fulham may come a game too soon in regards to a starting berth.

There will be a host of changes from the side that drew 1-1 with Midtjylland, with Alisson expected to return between the sticks as Klopp’s regular senior contingent take centre-stage.

 

Liverpool’s XI vs. Fulham

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, December 6, 2020: Liverpool's Georginio Wijnaldum celebrates after scoring the second goal during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Wolverhampton Wanderers FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

It is likely that just three names are retained on the teamsheet from the off as Klopp turns back to the majority of the side who dispatched Wolves to the tune of 4-0.

While Caoimhin Kelleher more than proved himself to be more than capable, Alisson is straight back in after his spell with a hamstring injury behind what is now the Reds’ first-choice defensive contingent.

Trent Alexander-Arnold will back up his 90-minute outing in midweek and sit alongside the returning Joel Matip, with Fabinho and Andy Robertson covering the left side of the defence.

Gini Wijnaldum will be fresh off the back of a rare seven-day break, with Jordan Henderson anchoring the side behind Curtis Jones – who is given the nod ahead of Naby Keita as he continues to show a greater sense of maturity and influence.

And with Jota now out of contention, it leaves the familiar trident of Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino to lead the line:

Alisson; Trent, Matip, Fabinho, Robertson; Henderson, Wijnaldum, Jones; Salah, Mane, Firmino


However, it could be a case of looking ever so slightly ahead to the visit of Tottenham in mid-week for Liverpool.

After playing 112 minutes in his first two games back from a calf injury, Trent could sit this one out ready for the top of the table clash, meaning Neco Williams would slot back into right-back.

Similarly, Keita can backup his outing in midweek by keeping Jones out of the side as while the 19-year-old was handed an extended break after a knock against Wolves, he will be the preferred option later in the week.

It would signal the 50th Liverpool appearance for Keita, over two years on from his arrival.

The rest of the XI would remain the same, with the senior figures all back in the thick of the action:

Alisson; N. Williams, Matip, Fabinho, Robertson; Henderson, Wijnaldum, Keita; Salah, Mane, Firmino


With Fulham finding themselves in a relegation scrap it is of utmost importance that the Reds do not fall into the trap of counting their chickens before they’ve hatched.

Despite the injury list, it is a game Liverpool should win but having won just once away from home in the league this season, it is far from a sure thing.

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