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2 big selection decisions for Klopp – Predicting Liverpool’s lineup vs. Norwich

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Jurgen Klopp has a host of options ahead of Liverpool‘s Premier League curtain-raiser against Norwich, leaving him with some welcome selection headaches.

After three long months, another league campaign is upon us.

Liverpool get started at Carrow Road on Saturday evening as they hope to prove that last season’s below-par showing was merely due to severe bad luck with injuries.

The Reds are going nicely under the radar in comparison to some of their rivals, but there is a belief within the squad that another league title could come their way in 2021/22.

But the question is: how will Liverpool line up against Norwich?

 

Team News

Injury updates last season were long, painful ones but, thankfully, that is no longer the case.

Andy Robertson is the most noticeable absentee, with the Scot picking up an ankle ligament injury that could keep him out until after next month’s international break.

Curtis Jones has also been ruled out of the Norwich game after suffering a concussion in the 3-1 win over Osasuna on Monday night, with protocol ensuring he cannot take his place in the squad.

One should not expect Jordan Henderson or Thiago to start, meanwhile, with Klopp professing that: “We don’t prepare them for one game, we prepare for the full season.”

Otherwise, the main focus is on getting the likes of Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez fully fit again following long-term absences, with the No. 4 a strong chance to make his competitive return, one that will have been 302 days in the making.

 

Liverpool’s XI vs. Norwich

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Monday, August 9, 2021: Liverpool's Roberto Firmino (L) celebrates after scoring the third goal, his second, with team-mate Ibrahima Konaté during a pre-season friendly match between Liverpool FC and Club Atlético Osasuna at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

It is hugely encouraging to see such depth at Klopp’s disposal and it gives him some genuine selection headaches at Norwich, with it just a case of who he plumps for in certain key areas in his preferred 4-3-3 system.

Alisson and Trent Alexander-Arnold are definite starters in the back-line, with the pair among the most important figures at the club, with Kostas Tsimikas all but certain to deputise for the stricken Robertson.

The first of Klopp’s main conundrums comes at centre-back, with Joel Matip, Ibrahima Konate, Van Dijk and Gomez all vying for a spot.

Matip is the most likely to play, having reached full fitness and performed with great poise throughout the summer, with Van Dijk and Konate to fight it out for the other spot.

There is a risk in playing the former, given the nature of his injury and some rustiness to his game, but we are backing him to get the nod over a debut for Konate.

In midfield, Fabinho will most likely be joined by an in-form Naby Keita and the ever-dependable James Milner, who has had the whole summer to prepare.

Klopp’s other major headache comes in attack, where he has to choose between Diogo Jota and Roberto Firmino, who netted four times between them in pre-season.

Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane are obvious starters, and considering Firmino returned later than Jota, the Portuguese is the favourite to complete the front-three in a side that looks like this:

Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Matip, Van Dijk, Tsimikas; Fabinho, Keita, Milner; Salah, Mane, Jota


Alternatively, there are three options that Klopp could realistically turn to, all of whom are through the spine of the team.

As abovementioned, Konate represents a strong alternative to Van Dijk, should the Liverpool manager feel his new signing is ready.

He has played more pre-season football than his teammate, 275 minutes compared to 136, and looks the part, so there would be no risk element in giving him his Reds bow.

Should Klopp then be feeling ultra-bold, he could hand 18-year-old wonderkid Harvey Elliott an exciting maiden Premier League start.

The boyhood Liverpool fan has been a revelation in a No.8 role during pre-season and possesses the self-confidence to be thrown into a big occasion in place of veteran Milner.

Up top, Firmino looked excellent against Osasuna, scoring twice and looking buoyed by supporters being back, so he could get the nod ahead of Jota.

The Brazilian will be looking for a huge improvement on last season’s showing and he has shown what a perfect foil he can be for Salah and Mane.

Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Matip, Konate, Tsimikas; Fabinho, Elliott, Keita; Salah, Mane, Firmino


Whatever starting lineup Klopp opts for at Carrow Road, it will have a formidable look to it, with an abundance of top players both in-form and available.

Those who take to the field should have too much for a Norwich side who experienced a disrupted pre-season, lost key man Emiliano Buendia and will be battling for survival from the off.

A comprehensive Liverpool win would be the perfect start.


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