After an impressive Community Shield victory against Man City last week, the Reds look more than ready to get their league campaign underway.
Pre-season trips to Asia and Austria went about as well as they could have done, aside from several players picking up injuries that will keep them sidelined in the early weeks of the season.
The team that faced City at the King Power Stadium was about as strong as it could have been, but we expect there to be changes against Fulham.
Klopp delivered an extensive injury update in Friday’s pre-match press conference, with at least eight players unavailable:
- Alisson is now “fine” having missed a large chunk of pre-season due to injury
- Caoimhin Kelleher, Ibrahima Konate, Calvin Ramsay, Kostas Tsimikas, Curtis Jones, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Kaide Gordon and Diogo Jota are all out
- Naby Keita could feature, with Klopp expecting him to return to training on Friday following illness
Liverpool’s XI vs. Fulham
Liverpool’s No. 1 will go straight back into the lineup, and the majority of the rest of the XI picks itself.
The Firmino or Nunez dilemma is a tough one to call, but there’s every chance the Brazilian will get the nod again, with Klopp suggesting in Friday’s press conference that there is no need to throw Nunez straight in at the deep end.
If Klopp decided to use Nunez as an impact substitution again, Liverpool could shape up like this:
- Alisson between the sticks again following injury
- Joel Matip partnering Virgil van Dijk, with Ibrahima Konate out injured
- Fabinho, Jordan Henderson and Thiago in midfield
- Firmino handed another start alongside Mohamed Salah and Luis Diaz in attack
This could be the Reds’ XI for their first league match of the season:
An alternative lineup Klopp could consider would consist of two changes from the team above.
Harvey Elliott was arguably Liverpool’s standout performer during pre-season and did well when given a run in midfield at the beginning of the last campaign.
A start on Saturday would see him line up against his former club, an occasion he’d surely thrive in.
It would be no real surprise to see Nunez given the nod up front after his hugely impressive cameo against City last week.
Those changes would see Klopp’s side line up with:
- Elliott starting instead of Henderson in midfield
- Nunez leading the line, with Firmino on the bench
That would leave the Liverpool XI looking like this:
Whoever starts, the reintroduction of the five substitutions rule means Klopp will be able to call upon more players to impact the game in the second half.
That was certainly evident against City, with the likes of Elliott, Keita and Fabio Carvalho all impressing off the bench as well as Nunez.
The Reds’ injury list means the likes of Luke Chambers and Stefan Bajcetic could be named on the bench.
It’s also worth noting that those who don’t start at Craven Cottage are likely to be involved in a behind closed doors friendly that’s been scheduled for Sunday, which is believed to be against Aston Villa.
The Premier League is back, but Klopp is still keen to hand out minutes to all of his players ahead of another gruelling season.