Jurgen Klopp has options galore for Liverpool’s FA Cup tie against Cardiff, but will his approach be to go as strong as possible or opt for a mix in personnel?
The Reds are finally back and start the month with the FA Cup, the Championship’s 20th-placed side making the visit to Anfield in the fourth round.
With Harvey Elliott and Thiago back in contention and Divock Origi returning to team training, Liverpool’s treatment room is looking nice and scarce of players to tend to.
It’s a welcome change of pace and a conundrum Klopp will not be aggrieved to have as the Reds head into a decisive month in all four competitions.
Here’s how the Reds could lineup against Cardiff at Anfield.
Jurgen Klopp named one guaranteed member of Sunday’s squad and kept the possibilities of others featuring close to his chest:
- Elliott “definitely” in squad, Reds have to see “what is right for him”
- Thiago in full training, start from bench likely after chest infection
- Origi needs more time after training return on Thursday after two months out
- New signing Diaz has not been ruled out of featuring after arriving on Friday
- Alisson, Fabinho, Gomez and Oxlade-Chamberlain not spotted in Friday training
Liverpool’s XI vs. Cardiff
With Alisson and Fabinho expected to sit this one out following their exploits in South America with Brazil, two changes are guaranteed from the last time we saw the Reds in action.
Add Naby Keita‘s return from AFCON and Elliott’s return to fitness and Klopp is capable of naming a side with regular starters, to help with rhythm, and those needing minutes:
- Kelleher takes up his domestic cup place in place of Alisson
- Alexander-Arnold joined by Konate, Van Dijk and Tsimikas
- In midfield, Morton to be joined by Elliott and Keita in exciting combination
- And Gordon to get another chance next to Jota and Firmino
This would see Liverpool lineup like this:
Kelleher; Alexander-Arnold, Konate, Van Dijk, Tsimikas; Morton, Elliott, Keita; Gordon, Jota, Firmino
On the other hand, if Gomez is not available – not spotted at training on Friday – it could be that Klopp seeks to get Matip and Van Dijk back on the same page as soon as possible.
It may also be that neither Andy Robertson or Trent Alexander-Arnold start with Kostas Tsimikas and Conor Bradley capable deputies:
- Bradley and Tsimikas take up full-back duties beside Matip and Van Dijk
- Henderson in the No. 6 role besire Keita and Jones
- And Minamino to get another chance with Jota and Firmino
- In this scenario, Elliott and Thiago start from the bench
Those changes look like this:
Kelleher; Bradley, Matip, Van Dijk, Tsimikas; Henderson, Jones, Keita; Minamino, Jota, Firmino
A lot will depend on how Liverpool approach the return of Elliott and Thiago, with this the ideal time to get starts under their belt if at all possible.
With options aplenty, Klopp has the luxury of thinking of both the now and for what is to come around the corner, with a mix of those on the fringe and his regular starters likely.
Either way, Liverpool should have more than enough firepower against the Championship side and appearances from Elliott, Thiago and Diaz will be the icing on the cake.