Jurgen Klopp will field a heavily rotated side as Liverpool visit Southampton three days after the FA Cup final, with as many as eight changes expected at St Mary’s.
Southampton vs. Liverpool
Premier League (37) | St Mary’s
Saturday, May 17, 2022 | 7.45pm
Liverpool and Chelsea played out the closest FA Cup final in history on Saturday, with none of the previous 149 years of finals seeing two hours played without a goal.
It was another intense clash between the two sides, as was the case in February’s League Cup final, and the Reds were given only two days to recover before their next Premier League clash.
It is a crucial one, too, as with Man City dropping points at West Ham on Sunday the title race remains alive and victory at St Mary’s is paramount.
For Klopp, though, the challenge is to put together a side fit enough and capable of taking the three points.
Here is the latest on Liverpool’s fitness situation:
- Fabinho doing “very well” but not available on Tuesday
- Klopp admits “we have to make changes”
- Virgil van Dijk and Mohamed Salah doubtful after injury
- Andy Robertson available after cramp but likely rested
Liverpool’s XI vs. Southampton
During his pre-match press conference, Klopp explained that he would “have to make changes.”
“Imagine we go there with eight players who played 120 minutes,” he told reporters. That makes no sense.”
In reality, it is possible that Klopp rests all five players who stayed on the pitch for the entire FA Cup final, while Van Dijk and Salah are also set to miss out.
That would rule Sadio Mane, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Thiago, Jordan Henderson and Ibrahima Konate out of contention and hand opportunities to a number of squad players:
- James Milner, Joe Gomez and Kostas Tsimikas able to join Joel Matip in defence
- Naby Keita as emergency No. 6, flanked by Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Curtis Jones
- Diogo Jota and Roberto Firmino to start alongside Luis Diaz
That would see only three players keep their places from the final:
Alisson; Milner, Matip, Gomez, Tsimikas; Keita, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Jones; Jota, Diaz, Firmino
However, there would be an element of risk in fielding a side with so many changes, and it is possible that Klopp relies upon at least one of his five marathon men to start again.
The most feasible in that respect are Konate and Henderson, which would solve two big issues in the above lineup:
- Konate to start again as Gomez shifts to right-back
- Henderson retained with Keita and Jones in advanced roles
- Divock Origi another option if Diaz is also rested
Those tweaks would see Liverpool line up like this:
Alisson; Gomez, Matip, Konate, Tsimikas; Henderson, Keita, Jones; Jota, Origi, Firmino
It is certainly a tough situation for Klopp and his backroom staff, as nothing less than three points is required at St Mary’s, but the lack of recovery time will force their hand.
Much will depend on the manager’s conversations with those five players who played 120 minutes at Wembley – as it would be a big boost if any of those were fit enough to start again.