MATCHDAY PROGRAMME

Liverpool lineup vs. Union SG – 3 teenagers to start in rotated side?

Jurgen Klopp is a tricky manager to read at the best of times, but predicting a lineup for Thursday’s dead rubber against Union SG could be particularly challenging.

The manager himself admitted at Monday’s live Q&A session at Anfield that he has “no clue” who will start for the Reds in their final Group E game, with top spot already guaranteed for his side.

It leaves us with a wide range of potential options in midweek, where we can expect youth to be given a chance on a European stage.

Let’s take a look at some possible lineup permutations as we get set to sign off in the Europa League group stage.

 

Team news

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Wednesday, December 13, 2023: Liverpool's captain Virgil van Dijk during a training session at the AXA Training Centre ahead of the UEFA Europa League Group E match between Royale Union Saint-Gilloise and Liverpool FC. (Photo by Jessica Hornby/Propaganda)

Here’s what we know after the squad trained on Wednesday:

 

Liverpool’s XI vs. Union SG

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Thursday, October 26, 2023: Liverpool's Luke Chambers during the UEFA Europa League Group E matchday 3 game between Liverpool FC and Toulouse FC at Anfield. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

With qualification wrapped up and the small matter of Man United on the horizon, it is safe to assume that players in contention for a start on Sunday are likely to be kept away from the action in midweek.

A quartet of Alisson, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Mo Salah and Virgil van Dijk, wisely, remained on Merseyside as the squad flew to Belgium on Wednesday afternoon.

That means that we can expect to see a blend of youth and fringe players capable of carrying out a professional job in Europe while protecting and resting key senior figures for what is to come.

With that in mind, let’s see how the Reds might look on Thursday:

  • Conor Bradley and Luke Chambers to start at full-back
  • McConnell to start at the base of a midfield three
  • Scanlon to play on the left of the forward line

This is how Liverpool would line up:

Kelleher; Bradley, Gomez, Quansah, Chambers; McConnell, Elliott, Jones; Doak, Scanlon, Gakpo


The unusual nature of this fixture means there is very little previous evidence to indicate how strong the manager will choose to go in this one.

Klopp has faced dead rubbers with Liverpool before in the Champions League, but with each group stage win in that competition reported to be worth £2.4 million, the teams have tended to be stronger than the situation has required.

Alternatives include Gordon, who hasn’t played for the Reds since the League Cup semi-final victory over Arsenal back in 2022 due to various long-term fitness complications.

Here is how a variation of the starting XI might shape up for Liverpool:

  • Gordon to start right-wing, with Ben Doak shifted into the centre
  • Wataru Endo to play No. 6 and allow McConnell to push higher up
  • Koumas to make his senior debut on the left of a front three

This is how Liverpool would line up:

Kelleher; Bradley, Gomez, Quansah, Chambers; Endo, Elliott, McConnell; Gordon, Koumas, Doak


It is a situation that Klopp won’t find himself in too often as Liverpool manager, but a position of luxury given that the pressure has been completely removed from the encounter.

The Reds have a busy festive period ahead of them and it makes little sense to take too many risks with a title race looking very much on over the coming months.

Just three two-legged ties separate us from a date in Dublin, and there will hopefully be plenty more to play for on domestic soil as the campaign wears on.

Up the Reds!