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Predicting the Liverpool lineup vs. Man City as Klopp considers Firmino surprise

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Jurgen Klopp has a big decision to make as he prepares his Liverpool lineup for the visit of Man City on Sunday – but not in the area perhaps expected at right-back.

The Reds face their biggest game of the season so far this weekend as champions City head to Merseyside, the two sides a point apart in the Premier League table.

Last season brought a first win for City at Anfield since 2003, with the return of supporters likely to be a big boost for Liverpool as they look to avoid back-to-back home defeats in the fixture – last experienced all the way back in the 1950s.

Both managers anticipate a high-tempo, attacking clash, with Klopp and Pep Guardiola weighing up their lineup options due to injuries in key areas.

Liverpool’s issue most notably comes at right-back, but the manager could spring a surprise elsewhere on the pitch too.

 

Who’s in and who’s out?

There are no new injuries for Liverpool following the 5-1 win over Porto in midweek, but Klopp still has a host to consider:

 

Liverpool’s XI vs. Man City

PORTO, PORTUGAL - Tuesday, September 28, 2021: Liverpool's James Milner during the UEFA Champions League Group B Matchday 2 game between FC Porto and Liverpool FC at the Estádio do Dragão. Liverpool won 5-1. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Much of the talk in the buildup surrounded the absence of Alexander-Arnold and the options to replace him at right-back.

“We have three or more options for the position,” Klopp said. “We have obviously James, we have Joe, we have Neco. We could change system.

“There are quite a few things and we have time to train this week. There are a lot of things possible.”

The immediate thought, there, would be a shift to a back three, with a trio of centre-backs, but in reality, Milner should be expected to keep his place against his old club.

In fact, Klopp could name an unchanged lineup from the victory at Porto:

This would see Liverpool line up like this for a must-win game:

Alisson; Milner, Matip, Van Dijk, Robertson; Fabinho, Henderson, Jones; Salah, Mane, Jota


However, there is a chance Klopp opts for a change of system in attack rather than defence, as he did for the 1-1 draw at the Etihad last season.

This would see Roberto Firmino return to the starting lineup for the first time since Chelsea, after scoring twice off the bench in midweek:

  • Alisson, Milner, Matip, Van Dijk and Robertson the back five
  • Jones the unlucky dropout to leave Fabinho and Henderson double-pivot
  • Firmino in to take No. 10 role in 4-2-3-1, with Jota up front

That bold move would see Liverpool shape up as below:

Alisson; Milner, Matip, Van Dijk, Robertson; Fabinho, Henderson; Salah, Firmino, Mane; Jota


It would certainly be no surprise if Klopp switched to a 4-2-3-1 system, particularly given the impact Firmino had in Portugal, despite losing his place to Jota.

However, the more likely lineup at this stage would be an unchanged one, with Liverpool instead looking for consistency after Henderson, Milner, Salah, Mane and Jota were all withdrawn in midweek.

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