Jurgen Klopp‘s team selection for the upcoming clash with Aston Villa rests on news on two of his attacking options, with a full-strength Liverpool side expected to return.
Klopp made eight changes for the Champions League clash with AC Milan in midweek, with the night going almost perfectly for the Reds in Italy.
The manager started both Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane, and with the score at 2-1, he was then able to withdraw the pair just after the hour mark, with Naby Keita and Joe Gomez on for valuable minutes.
There was little riding on that tie, but Saturday brings another important Premier League game at home to Steven Gerrard’s Villa.
A change in emphasis means it is pretty straightforward when it comes to Klopp’s XI, though the manager is still awaiting the result of a late fitness test.
Speaking in his pre-match press conference, Klopp gave an update on the fitness of three players, while Thursday’s training session gave further clues:
- Roberto Firmino back in training but unlikely to be heavily involved
- Divock Origi fit despite missing training, Diogo Jota a doubt
- Nat Phillips out due to fractured cheekbone
- Curtis Jones (eye) and Harvey Elliott (ankle) still sidelined
Liverpool’s XI vs. Villa
In his press conference, Klopp explained that “Diogo felt something after the last Premier League game and didn’t train yet,” adding: “[If] he can train today, then he is an option.”
Even if Jota is passed fit, it is unclear whether he would be considered able to start.
But on the proviso that he is given the green light to feature, Liverpool could field close to their strongest XI against Villa:
- Alisson in goal behind Trent Alexander-Arnold, Joel Matip, Virgil van Dijk and Andy Robertson
- Fabinho, Jordan Henderson and Thiago all back in midfield
- Salah and Mane flanking Jota in attack
With another eight changes to his starting XI from midweek, Liverpool would line up like this:
Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Matip, Van Dijk, Robertson; Fabinho, Henderson, Thiago; Salah, Mane, Jota
However, if Jota is unable to take part – at least as a starter – there could be one fewer alteration to the side from Milan.
“I think he will be fine for tomorrow,” the manager said of his other option, Origi. “[I] didn’t hear anything different.”
Without Jota and with Firmino not yet fully fit, Klopp could retain his forward line from the Champions League and make seven changes:
- Alisson behind Alexander-Arnold, Matip, Van Dijk and Robertson
- Fabinho, Henderson and Thiago certain starters in midfield
- Origi to keep his place between Salah and Mane
That would see Liverpool take to the field as below:
Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Matip, Van Dijk, Robertson; Fabinho, Henderson, Thiago; Salah, Mane, Origi
As it stands, the second of those two lineups seems the most likely, with no risks required when it comes to the long-term fitness of Jota.
With Origi in confident form after two goals in his last two games – and four in his last six – he represents a capable stand-in while both Jota and Firmino recover.
Beyond that, the rest of Liverpool’s key players are in good health, meaning the Reds can take the fight to Villa in pursuit of a seventh straight win in all competitions.