NOTTINGHAM, ENGLAND - Saturday, October 22, 2022: Liverpool's Harvey Elliott arrives before the FA Premier League match between Nottingham Forest FC and Liverpool FC at the City Ground. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Why Harvey Elliott starts instead of Stefan Bajcetic vs. Man United

The biggest surprise in Liverpool’s starting lineup to take on Man United on Sunday was in Harvey Elliott keeping his place over Stefan Bajcetic.

Jurgen Klopp made three changes to his side from the 2-0 win over Wolves in midweek, with Andy Robertson, Jordan Henderson and Cody Gakpo coming in.

Henderson was expected to start in a big-game tie, but the assumption was that Elliott would drop out and Bajcetic be retained amid an excellent run of form.

But when the teamsheet was released at 3.30pm, the news emerged that Klopp had backed his No. 19 over his slightly younger team-mate.

“It’s just a mix of what we need. The experience and the football part,” he told Sky Sports on his midfield setup.

“Harvey played a really good game against Wolves. We set a new record – for this season, at least – in counter-pressing situations. Harvey was very much involved in that.

“And on top of that he’s a good connector, these kinds of things.

“Hendo, with his experience, that’s why [he starts]. It says nothing about Stefan. He was outstanding.

“There were other options as well. So that’s good.

“That didn’t happen that often this season, but we have them now and that’s why we decide for that.”

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Wednesday, March 1, 2023: Liverpool's Mohamed Salah (R) celebrates with team-mate Harvey Elliott after scoring the second goal during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Wolverhampton Wanderers FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The hope will be, then, that Elliott brings intensity in a midfield alongside Henderson and Fabinho, again starting as the left-sided No. 8 in Klopp’s 4-3-3.

His combination play with Robertson and Darwin Nunez will be vital, but as the manager pointed out, so will his ability to win the ball back quickly.

Bajcetic remains an option, of course, on a bench that includes the likes of Diogo Jota, Fabio Carvalho and Roberto Firmino.

Jota was always expected to drop out after two consecutive starts, with Gakpo taking his place.

Klopp explained that while the Portuguese that “really good” against Wolves, he did not want to “force it” after a four-month injury.