The League Cup first leg semi-final against Arsenal is finally upon Liverpool and Jurgen Klopp will be boosted by the presence of the majority of his senior squad.
The Reds were left to look “nearly everywhere” to put together a team to face Shrewsbury over the weekend after positive Covid results that were discovered to be false positives that kept players in isolation.
It forced the postponement of the original first leg at the Emirates as a total of 18 players were deemed unavailable, but a week on and Liverpool are in a more comfortable position.
The question now is how does Klopp manage his squad for this match as he also looks ahead to the next Premier League games less than three days later.
Here’s how the Reds could lineup at Anfield.
There was a mixed update from the boss on Wednesday, with two players confirmed to be back in team training but two also remain sidelined:
- Alisson and Trent Alexander-Arnold both have returned to team training
- Thiago and Divock Origi remain absent due to injury
- Andy Robertson “is fine” after knock vs. Shrewsbury
- Harvey Elliott “looks really promising,” not “too far away from team training”
- Rest of senior squad should be available
Liverpool’s XI vs. Arsenal
As abovementioned, the visit of Brentford less than 67 hours after the conclusion of this match could play into Klopp’s thinking.
But it could be a strong as possible XI to take the most out of being at home in the first leg and hope to create a strong foundation for the following week.
It could, therefore, see:
- Alisson return in goal with Alexander-Arnold similarly straight back in
- Konate and Van Dijk to continue their partnership alongside Robertson
- Fabinho and Henderson reunited, with Jones in his favoured position
- And Minamino, Jota and Firmino would then lead the line
It would see the Reds shape up like this:
Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Konate, Van Dijk, Robertson; Fabinho, Henderson, Jones; Jota, Minamino, Firmino
On the other hand, it could very well be a case of rewarding those who have helped put Liverpool in this position in the first place.
Namely, Joe Gomez, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Takumi Minamino as each have started the preceding three games in the competition, and Caoimhin Kelleher can also be put in this bracket:
- Kelleher keeps his place ahead of Alisson for his third successive start
- Neco Williams, Joe Gomez and Kostas Tsimikas earn their place in defence
- Oxlade-Chamberlain joins Fabinho and Henderson in midfield
- Minamino given chance to make is four League Cup games in a row with a goal
Those changes would then see Liverpool take to the field like this:
Kelleher; Williams, Gomez, Van Dijk, Tsimikas; Fabinho, Henderson, Oxlade-Chamberlain; Minamino, Jota, Firmino
It’s an interesting conundrum for Klopp to have at this juncture of the competition and in light of what is to come, with a balancing act needed.
Either XI would not come as a surprise and Liverpool have shown they are capable of getting the job done one way or another, the objective now is to set up strong foundations for the second leg.