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.
Klopp has confirmed the following ahead of kickoff:
- Alisson and Fabinho are unavailable as they head straight to Madrid
- Diogo Jota and Trent Alexander-Arnold are back fit and ready
- But Curtis Jones and Thiago are both sidelined with injury problems
Liverpool’s XI vs. Watford
Despite the absence of
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.
- Caoimhin Kelleher to start in goal in Alisson‘s absence
- Alexander-Arnold back next to Virgil van Dijk, Joel Matip and Andy Robertson
- Jordan Henderson as No. 6, joined by James Milner and Naby Keita
- Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino start in attack
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.