Jurgen Klopp‘s side are in desperate need of a win to get their season up and running, having picked up just two points from their opening three league matches.
The defeat to United was a worrying one. Liverpool’s ongoing injury problems are bound to have an impact on any team, but the lineup fielded at Old Trafford was more than good enough to put in a much better performance than the Reds ultimately did.
More concerning was the body language of the players. Completely shell-shocked from minute one. None of the grit and determination we’ve come to expect from Klopp’s team, even in defeat.
Despite an extensive list of players that remain unavailable, you’d still expect to see some changes to the team this weekend, so what could Liverpool’s XI look like against the Cherries?
From Klopp’s pre-match press conference on Friday, we know the following:
- 11 players still absent, including suspended Darwin Nunez
- Joel Matip, Curtis Jones, Thiago, Diogo Jota and Caoimhin Kelleher nearing fitness but not yet ready
- Keita injury severity still unclear
Liverpool’s XI vs. Bournemouth
Given the worrying lack of cohesion in midfield that night, you would expect the Brazilian to regain his starting spot on Saturday.
The only question, then, would be who else would line up alongside him, with Liverpool’s limited options leaving them with just five midfielders at present.
Harvey Elliott deserves to keep his spot in the team, but with the 19-year-old most comfortable on the right-hand side of the midfield trio, Henderson may be asked to take up a role on the left.
If Fabinho is reintroduced to the team, Liverpool could shape up like this:
- The same back four, with Joe Gomez alongside Virgil van Dijk again
- James Milner to make way for Fabinho, with Henderson moving into the No. 8 role
- The same front three that started at Old Trafford
If that was the only change from the team that lost against United, this would be the Reds’ XI:
Another player who could be set for an opportunity to impress from the start is Carvalho, who arguably did more in his 20 minute cameo against United than any other Liverpool player on the night.
His introduction to the team would be an interesting one, and if he were to come in, Klopp may consider a change of system for this match.
It was Carvalho’s performances as a No. 10 in a 4-2-3-1 formation that convinced Liverpool to sign him, and that is a shape Klopp could consider if the Portugal under-21 international is handed his first Premier League start this weekend.
If Klopp was to change the system, several other players would be deployed in slightly different positions:
- Henderson and Fabinho to form a midfield pivot
- Carvalho to come in for Firmino, with Elliott and Diaz on the sides
- Mo Salah up front
That would leave the team shaping up like this:
Lots to consider, then, for Klopp.
Nunez’s unavailability may leave the boss reluctant to switch to a 4-2-3-1 system for now, but a change of formation may give Bournemouth manager Scott Parker something different to think about.
Put simply, this is a must-win game for Liverpool, and with the games coming thick and fast between now and the September international break, the Reds have to find a way to kickstart their campaign once and for all.