Jurgen Klopp faces a big selection call at right-back and a decision over how much to rotate as Liverpool visit Nottingham Forest in the FA Cup quarter-finals.
Nottingham Forest vs. Liverpool
FA Cup Quarter Final | City Ground
Sunday, 20 March 2022 | 6pm (GMT)
The Reds learned their Champions League quarter-final opponents on Friday, and two days later they will take on Forest in the last eight of the FA Cup.
With the League Cup already secured, Liverpool are in with a chance of silverware in three competitions, and though it was a low priority in previous seasons, English football’s premier domestic cup is in the sights this time around.
Having already overcome Shrewsbury, Cardiff and Norwich in the earlier rounds, Klopp’s side face off against an upwardly mobile Forest who have knocked Arsenal, Leicester and Huddersfield out so far.
It is, however, Championship opposition, and the manager should have faith in his squad players to come in and perform in such a tie.
But a two-week international break after the trip to the City Ground makes it a more interesting proposition when it comes to predicting Liverpool’s XI.
In his pre-match press conference, Klopp revealed a new injury blow, along with other concerns:
- Trent Alexander-Arnold out with hamstring injury; to miss weeks
- Mo Salah “felt his foot a bit” after Arsenal game
- James Milner and Kostas Tsimikas could miss out again with illness
- Alisson to start over Caoimhin Kelleher – “FA Cup is Ali”
Liverpool’s XI vs. Forest
Elsewhere in his press conference, Klopp would not give away his plans when it comes to rotation, but stressed: “I want to have a team that is fresh enough, physically and mentally, for the game and really is going for it.”
Given the high-intensity game played out at Arsenal in midweek, there is a strong chance that a number of players are rested from that win at the Emirates.
However, while Alisson is confirmed to start, Alexander-Arnold is injured and Salah, Milner and Tsimikas are all doubts, leaving fewer options to consider:
- Joe Gomez & Ibrahima Konate could come into right-hand side of defence
- Jordan Henderson gives opportunity to rest Fabinho in No. 6 role
- Curtis Jones & Naby Keita well-balanced options in midfield
- Roberto Firmino likely to start up front
- Cup heroes Takumi Minamino & Divock Origi available out wide
That would see seven changes from the 2-0 victory at Arsenal:
Alisson; Gomez, Konate, Van Dijk, Robertson; Henderson, Jones, Keita; Minamino, Origi, Firmino
When discussing his alternatives to the injured Alexander-Arnold, Klopp suggested he could turn to a “very young solution,” which would be 18-year-old Conor Bradley.
It is less likely that the Northern Ireland international will start, but if the manager is looking to rotate more, he could give an opportunity to some of his other fringe figures, too:
- Bradley starting would allow Gomez & Konate at centre-back
- If fit, Tsimikas likely to replace Andy Robertson
- Harvey Elliott & Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain also available as No. 8s
- Luis Diaz could start again if Klopp wants more firepower
Those alterations would see Liverpool shape up like this:
Alisson; Bradley, Gomez, Konate, Tsimikas; Henderson, Elliott, Oxlade-Chamberlain; Minamino, Diaz, Firmino
It is certainly a tough game to predict the Liverpool lineup for, with Klopp likely to show as much respect as possible to a Forest side he has lavished with praise.
The cushion of almost two weeks without another fixture – albeit with an international break to come instead – and the manager’s comments on Alisson‘s involvement do suggest, though, that it will be a strong XI at the City Ground.