The Reds make the short journey to Manchester this weekend with a huge advantage in the Premier League title hunt up for grabs.
Beat City, and Liverpool will move two points clear at the top of the table with seven games left to play, while dealing the reigning champions a big setback in the process.
It may not decide the title race, as Klopp has already stressed, but Sunday’s clash is undoubtedly one of the most significant in the context of the campaign.
To that end, Klopp needs to get it right when it comes to his starting side at the Etihad.
Friday saw Klopp hold his pre-match press conference, while the training session soon afterwards gave an update on the squad available:
- Fabinho available despite concussion fears post-Benfica
- Roberto Firmino absent from training on Friday
- Otherwise fully fit squad to select from
Liverpool’s XI vs. Man City
Firmino has played City more times than any other side in his career (17), and has started in all but one of those games, scoring five goals and assisting five more.
It is a shame, then, that the Brazilian may not be able to start at the Etihad, despite losing his regular spot in the side this season.
But if Firmino is available – and there remains every chance he is – it stands to reason that he will be considered by Klopp as part of a familiar lineup:
- Joel Matip likely to return to settled back four
- Jordan Henderson expected to join Fabinho and Thiago in midfield
- If fit, Firmino could reprise front three with Mo Salah and Sadio Mane
That would align with Klopp’s admission that “big-game experience” should be considered, and see Liverpool line up like this:
However, even if he is available, the increase of options in attack means Firmino is far from guaranteed a place in the side on Sunday.
- Little chance of experimentation in defence over Matip
- Keita could be rewarded with consecutive starts
- Jota can lead the line if Firmino is out or overlooked
Those changes would see Liverpool line up like this:
The variety and depth of the Liverpool squad makes predicting the lineup for any given game a tough task, but it seems likely that Klopp will go for the tried and trusted against City.
Whether Firmino’s possible absence will throw a spanner in the works, however, remains to be seen.