LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, August 21, 2021: Liverpool's manager Jürgen Klopp (L) and Naby Keita after the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Burnley FC at Anfield. Liverpool won 2-0. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Predicting the Liverpool lineup vs. Watford as Klopp faces big midfield issue

Jurgen Klopp will be without four of his first-team midfielders for Saturday’s clash with Watford, but fortunately another is available due to Trent Alexander-Arnold‘s return.

The Reds are back in action this weekend after a 12-day break for internationals, and come up against a Watford side led by a new manager.

Claudio Ranieri is now in charge at Vicarage Road, with his appointment ensuring an unpredictable afternoon for Klopp and his players – with the coaching staff analysing Sampdoria in preparation.

As ever, the international break has taken its toll on Klopp’s personnel, with one player returning with an injury and two others ruled out due to quarantine issues.

That leaves the manager facing a big call over his midfield for Saturday.


Team News

Klopp has confirmed the following ahead of kickoff:


Liverpool’s XI vs. Watford

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, September 18, 2021: Liverpool's James Milner during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Crystal Palace FC at Anfield. Liverpool won 3-0. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Despite the absence of Thiago, Jones, Fabinho and Harvey Elliott, the situation in midfield is not as perilous as it was at centre-back last season.

The manager still has options to consider, while there is a readymade alternative for Alisson between the sticks.

It is unclear whether Alexander-Arnold and Jota will be deemed fit enough to start, though the right-back is more likely to do so given he trained at Kirkby throughout the break.

With four changes to the side that drew 2-2 with Man City, Liverpool could line up like this:

Kelleher; Alexander-Arnold, Matip, Van Dijk, Robertson; Henderson, Milner, Keita; Salah, Mane, Firmino

There is a chance Klopp shuffles his pack even more, though, involving more of the players who were able to train for longer ahead of kickoff.

Milner and Firmino are among those, but Joe Gomez, Ibrahima Konate, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Divock Origi could also be in consideration.

Klopp could also address the lack of first-choice options in midfield by shifting his system to a 4-2-3-1 and accommodating all four of his regular attacking starters.

  • Kelleher behind Alexander-Arnold, Gomez, Konate and Robertson
  • Henderson and Keita starting as the midfield two
  • Salah, Firmino and Mane supporting Jota as the centre-forward

This would allow Liverpool to take to the field like this:

Kelleher; Alexander-Arnold, Gomez, Konate, Robertson; Henderson, Keita; Salah, Firmino, Mane; Jota

With Alisson and Fabinho both back for the clash with Atletico Madrid in midweek, Klopp could then make further changes to ensure a stronger side takes to the field in the Champions League.

Even despite the injuries and enforced absences, it remains a balancing act for Liverpool as they aim to keep the likes of Van Dijk and Matip fresh throughout a relentless schedule.