Salah returns in the only change? – Predicting Liverpool’s lineup vs. Newcastle

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Liverpool are now four matches without defeat in the Premier League, and Jurgen Klopp could make only a few tweaks on a day where sporting jeopardy is back in play.

It’s been a tumultuous week in the world of football, where the last time we saw Liverpool in action the club were signed up to a Super League and merely four days later it has all been blown into smithereens.

The top-four now means something again and the Reds will be intent on placing pressure on those around them with three points against Newcastle in the early Saturday kickoff.

The draw at Leeds was a missed opportunity but Klopp and co. can only look forward with just six games remaining in the campaign.

Steve Bruce’s side have hit a hot streak of late and now find themselves out of the relegation hot seat and with potentially nothing to lose they could prove dangerous.

And injury and fatigue could play its part in how the manager sets up his side.

 

Mixed injury news

There was some good, and not so good news on the injury front this week.

Nat Phillips will remain sidelined for the clash with a hamstring issue that forced his absence against Leeds.

His presence on the outside pitches at Kirkby on Thursday, however, does suggest that he is not too far away.

Something that does not relate to Jordan Henderson, who Klopp confirmed he still has not received a return timeline for, meaning the captain is not in the running for at least “the next couple of weeks.”

Curtis Jones, meanwhile, is back in the fold after a three-game absence, while fears over Diogo Jota‘s availability were allayed with the manager insisting he is “fine.”

There are still a number of options up Klopp’s sleeve should he wish to use them, with Naby Keita, Xherdan Shaqiri and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain all available in addition to Neco Williams and Kostas Tsimikas if full-back rotation is on his mind.

 

Liverpool’s XI vs. Newcastle

Fabinho badge general Liverpool FC (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Despite tired legs making themselves apparent at Elland Road, just one change could be on the cards for Klopp at Anfield.

It would see Mo Salah return to the fold in place of Jota, with the familiar front three starting their 25th game together this season – with Sadio Mane coming into the game off the back of breaking a nine league game run without a goal.

With Phillips still unavailable, Fabinho will once again be required to partner Ozan Kabak for the third time as a defensive combination.

An unimportant statistic in any other season but an impressive one this time around when it’s been rare for any duo to amass that number across more than 20 combinations.

Alisson, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson would remain in play, as would Gini Wijnaldum, Thiago and James Milner in midfield:

Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Fabinho, Kabak, Robertson; Wijnaldum, Thiago, Milner; Salah, Firmino, Mane


Alternatively, while having just under five days to prepare, this fixture could present Klopp with an opportunity to turn to a different system and personnel.

The abovementioned lineup seems the most likely, but there is a credible case for Jota’s place in the side in addition to some fresh legs.

LONDON, ENGLAND - Saturday, April 3, 2021: Liverpool's Diogo Jota (L) celebrates after scoring the third goal during the FA Premier League match between Arsenal FC and Liverpool FC at the Emirates Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

It means Klopp could look down any number of these avenues to secure victory for his side:

  • Jota starts in a 4-2-3-1, with Gini and Thiago as the double-pivot
  • Shaqiri comes in on the right of attack, Salah central and Mane on the left
  • Keita handed another chance alongside Milner and Thiago
  • Or even Tsimikas handed first league start in needed break for Robertson

That there are options to choose from is welcome and it could be a case of managing fatigue at this point for those running in the red, whether that be starting from the bench or as pre-planned substitutions.


There is scope for change, but Klopp has kept things relatively consistent in recent weeks and with a top-four battle still underway it seems unlikely that he would drift too far from his current setup.

Liverpool know Newcastle can hold them out when their finishing is not on point from their last meeting in December, but ensuring their scoring boots are laced up is imperative if the season’s last remaining objective is to be achieved.

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