Liverpool return to Europa League action looking to extend their perfect start to Group E against French side Toulouse on Thursday night.
Liverpool vs. Toulouse
Europa League Group E (3) | Anfield
October 26, 2023 | 8pm (BST)
The Reds kicked off their first Europa League campaign since 2016 with wins over LASK and Unions SG, and can take a big jump towards the knockout stages with three points in this one.
But, they will now be looking to keep that derby-winning feeling at Anfield as they bid to make it three wins in three from the group.
Here are the 10 things you need to know ahead of Liverpool vs. Toulouse.
1. Gakpo “available for the squad”
The boss provided us with a number of fitness updates as he previewed his side’s third Europa League clash of the season so far.
Cody Gakpo has been in “full training since Sunday, according to the boss, and is “available for the squad.” Elsewhere in attack, there was no mention of Ben Doak‘s fitness status but he wasn’t in full training on Wednesday afternoon.
After feeling cramps towards the end of last week, Klopp said Darwin Nunez“is fine for this game, I would say.”
Meanwhile, the manager confirmed Andy Robertson “had surgery and all went well,” but admitted “we don’t know how long it will take” to come back.
There was also an update on Stefan Bajcetic as the boss said he is still “not in team training”.
2. Toulouse danger men
The French side have picked up four points from their first two fixtures in Group E themselves and will be keen to get something from Anfield to help their own quest for knockout qualification.
Frank Magri is Toulouse’s top scorer with three goals so far this season and was left out of the starting XI for the 1-1 draw with Reims ahead of the trip to Anfield.
Eighteen-year-old Guillaume Restes is one of Europe’s most talented young goalkeepers but will have his work cut out no matter which forward line Klopp elects to go with.
3. Left-back conundrum
The injury to Andy Robertson has left the door open for Liverpool’s senior left-backs to grab themselves additional minutes over the coming weeks.
Kostas Tsimikas was the man tasked with filling in for the Scotland captain against Everton, but the likes of Joe Gomez, Luke Chambers and even Calum Scanlon will be hoping for opportunities in Robertson’s absence.
We have already seen that Klopp likes to rotate his side in this competition, does that mean we could see youth given a chance against Toulouse?
4. A rare meeting
Thursday will be just the second time the two sides have met at Anfield, with the first coming in the 4-0 victory in Champions League qualifying all the way back in 2007.
Liverpool went on to get knocked out by Chelsea in the semi-final of that season’s competition, having reached two of the previous three finals by beating the London side at the same stage.
5. Chance for Jones
The visit of Toulouse provides a perfect opportunity for Liverpool’s No. 17 to maintain his match sharpness ahead of his full return after the clash with Nottingham Forest this weekend.
6. Shortcut opportunity
While the Europa League has provided a welcome opportunity for rotation, the manager will want to ensure his players remain professional until the job is done.
Finishing top of the group would allow the Reds to bypass the ‘playoff’ round at the beginning of the knockout stages and progress straight to the last 16 phase.
The two-legged ‘playoff’ round takes place on February 15 and 22, while the subsequent stage doesn’t begin until March 7, bringing Dublin that little bit closer!
7. Unconventional qualifying route
One look at last season’s Ligue 1 table might leave you wondering how Toulouse managed to qualify for this year’s competition.
The French side finished 13th in the top flight last season but were able to secure their spot in Europe by winning the 2022/23 Coupe de France.
Toulouse thrashed Nantes 5-1 in the Paris final and are making their first appearance in Europe since 2009 in this campaign’s Europa League.
8. More changes expected
The likes of Gravenberch and Elliott have been heavily involved in those competitions so far, but their impressive recent displays in the league may see the manager share the opportunities around further.
Klopp said ahead of this one, he “will make a few changes, not too many maybe” – it’s statement that doesn’t give much away.
Caoimhin Kelleher is available again after the knee cut that kept him out of Union SG’s visit three weeks ago and will be keen to get back between the sticks against Toulouse.
Predicted XI vs. Toulouse: Kelleher; Gomez, Matip, Quansah, Chambers; Elliott, Endo, Jones; Salah, Nunez, Gakpo
9. Referee watch
Referees in Europe tend to be less familiar to us as fans, but perhaps that’s a positive!
Rade Obrenovic is in charge on Thursday night for what will be his first Liverpool fixture, but he has previously refereed an England game in which Trent Alexander-Arnold registered a hat-trick of assists in just 10 minutes.
10. Follow along with us!
As always, This Is Anfield are here to bring you live updates from Anfield as the Reds look to do the business in Europe for the third game in a row.
Liverpool can take a big step towards Dublin on Thursday night and you can follow all of the action on our very own matchday liveblog, which will be available from 45 minutes before kick-off.
Up the Reds!