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Predicting Liverpool’s lineup vs. Chelsea with Covid cases to force changes

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COVID-19 has again thrown the spanner in the works for Liverpool ahead of their crucial trip to Chelsea, and injuries too are to limit Jurgen Klopp‘s selection for the match.

Liverpool are looking for an immediate response after dropping three valuable points in midweek at Leicester, with this league not forgiving of such results.

It will be the final time Klopp can call upon Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Naby Keita until the conclusion of their Africa Cup of Nation campaigns and they could each prove instrumental.

Further positive cases have depleted the Reds’ numbers and will ensure the team are without Klopp on the touchline, but Chelsea too are battling their own squad issues to add another layer of complexity to an already decisive fixture.

Here’s how Liverpool could lineup at Stamford Bridge.

 

Team News

There is still a lot of uncertainty for who can play a part in the first game of 2022 after three first team players tested positive:

  • Andy Robertson remains suspended for the clash
  • Three unnamed senior players tested positive; two on Thursday, one on Friday
  • Absence of Alisson and Firmino in Thursday’s training means they could be the cases
  • Thiago, Minamino, Phillips, Elliott and Origi remain sidelined through injury
  • Klopp to miss fixture after positive test, Lijnders to take the helm

 

Liverpool’s XI vs. Chelsea

INNSBRUCK, AUSTRIA - Thursday, July 29, 2021: Liverpool's Mohamed Salah (R) celebrates his side's second goal with team-mate Naby Keita during a pre-season friendly match between Liverpool FC and Hertha BSC at the Tivoli Stadion. (Pic by Jürgen Faichter/Propaganda)

With the names of the positive cases unknown, it makes it tricky to predict just how Liverpool can lineup on Sunday.

“You will see on Sunday when you see the teamsheet it’s pretty clear who is affected,” Klopp said on Friday.

It is likely that Alisson and Roberto Firmino are to be absent, however, and that makes for one obvious inclusion and an unchanged forward line:

  • Caoimhin Kelleher will take the place of Alisson if the No. 1 is absent
  • Tsimikas remains at left-back alongside Alexander-Arnold, Matip and Van Dijk
  • Keita to start in place of Oxlade-Chamberlain, Fabinho and Henderson alongside
  • And Salah and Mane to start final game before AFCON with Jota leading the line

This would see the Reds set up like this:

Kelleher; Alexander-Arnold, Matip, Van Dijk, Tsimikas; Fabinho, Henderson, Keita; Salah, Mane, Jota


Other Possible Options

LEICESTER, ENGLAND - Tuesday, December 28, 2021: Liverpool's Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain during the FA Premier League match between Leicester City FC and Liverpool FC at the King Power Stadium. Leicester City won 1-0. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

With such little information and the chance of further positive cases before kickoff, unpredictability is the word for fans and even for Klopp.

It goes without saying that if Alisson is available he will start, but here are other possible options for the manager at Chelsea:

  • Milner and Oxlade-Chamberlain options for midfield if other positive case is in the position
  • Jones on return from injury and Covid could be tasked with important role
  • Neco Williams, Gomez and Konate provide depth in defence, if and when needed
  • And the likes of Owen Beck and Conor Bradley likely to take up bench spot

It’s far from ideal for preparations for what is a must-win game but the show, at this stage, is still to go on and Liverpool will need to put their best foot forward, irrespective of who is out.

Starting 2022 with a win and sending Salah, Mane and Keita away off the back of a victory is exactly what Liverpool need and they’ll have to dig deep to do just that to cut the deficit to Man City.

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