Jurgen Klopp will have a number of fitness problems to consider for Liverpool’s clash with West Ham, but also a handful of decisions to make in key positions.
The Reds have another swift turnaround as, three days after the 2-1 win over Norwich in the FA Cup, they look to keep their Premier League title bid alive.
West Ham are the first of three visitors to Anfield in just over a week, and arrive hoping to propel their bid for a top-four finish, having won five and drawn two of their last nine games in the league.
The fixture list is starting to take its toll on Klopp’s squad again, but there are still big calls to make in defence, midfield and attack.
So how should Liverpool line up on Saturday?
In his pre-match press conference, Klopp revealed three new issues and two ongoing ones:
- Joel Matip ruled out due to illness – not COVID-19
- Doubts over Curtis Jones and Naby Keita
- Thiago and Roberto Firmino not yet fit
Liverpool’s XI vs. West Ham
After making 10 changes to his side in midweek, Klopp is likely to shuffle his pack again for the Premier League.
This could see many of his key names return to the fold, though the absence of Matip and a shortage of midfield options does make it intriguing.
Furthermore, there is a decision to make over which of his forwards start, though with Mohamed Salah left out against Norwich and both Luis Diaz and Sadio Mane only late substitutes, they are the most likely trio:
- Ibrahima Konate the likely option to replace Matip
- Harvey Elliott could start alongside Fabinho and Jordan Henderson
- Fresh trio of Salah, Mane and Diaz tasked with attacking duties
This would mean eight changes to the Liverpool side, which would see them shape up like this:
Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Konate, Van Dijk, Robertson; Fabinho, Henderson, Elliott; Salah, Diaz, Mane
However, the absence of first-choice starters in Matip and Thiago means there is room for manoeuvre when it comes to predicting Klopp’s centre-backs and midfielders.
Instead of Konate, there is a chance Joe Gomez could be rewarded with back-to-back starts – and his first as partner to Virgil van Dijk since the 7-2 loss to Aston Villa in October 2020 – while Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is another candidate in the middle:
- Gomez could join otherwise settled back four
- Oxlade-Chamberlain able to reprise left-sided midfield role
Those two alterations would see Liverpool line up as below:
Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Gomez, Van Dijk, Robertson; Fabinho, Henderson, Oxlade-Chamberlain; Salah, Diaz, Mane
It is an interesting position for Klopp to find himself in as he juggles a big, competitive squad, and in a way, these enforced absences could aid him as fringe figures step up.
The likes of Konate and Gomez are certainly deserving of more minutes, and the challenge could spur them on to a big performance.