SOUVENIR PROGRAMME

5 tactical solutions for Liverpool after Dominik Szoboszlai injury blow

With Dominik Szoboszlai facing another spell out with a recurrence of his hamstring injury, Jurgen Klopp has a wide range of options to solve the issue.

After Szoboszlai missed the Reds’ 3-1 loss at Arsenal, it has since emerged that the No. 8 could be facing a longer period on the sidelines.

Initial reports from his native Hungary claimed the midfielder could miss up to four weeks, which would rule him out for another six games including the Carabao Cup final.

That has since been disputed, but the reality is that Szoboszlai is currently out and, for the visit of Burnley at the very least, his absence will need to be managed.

Fortunately, Klopp has a number of options to consider without the Hungarian.

 

The obvious: Gravenberch or Elliott

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Thursday, November 30, 2023: Liverpool's Ryan Gravenberch during the UEFA Europa League Group E matchday 5 game between Liverpool FC and LASK at Anfield. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

At Arsenal, Klopp opted for a like-for-like switch of one right-sided No. 8 for another.

Ryan Gravenberch started at the Emirates, though Harvey Elliott will also have been considered as the other established option in that role.

It is likely that, if Szoboszlai’s layoff is only for the short term, the manager will stick with Gravenberch or Elliott in midfield – though there is certainly cause to argue whether either are the ideal fit.

 

Endo’s return, Mac Allister as No. 8

SHEFFIELD, ENGLAND - Wednesday, December 6, 2023: Liverpool's Wataru Endo during the FA Premier League match between Sheffield United FC and Liverpool FC at Bramall Lane. Liverpool won 2-0. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Speaking last week, Klopp reflected on the ongoing absences in his squad, saying: “We always could deal with it because we were lucky with the boys who were still available or came back from injury.”

When one player was sidelined, another would either step up from the academy or make a timely return.

That could be the case again, as Wataru Endo rejoins first-team training this week after Japan’s exit from the Asian Cup.

Endo was in outstanding form before departing for Qatar, and Szoboszlai’s layoff could allow both the 30-year-old and Alexis Mac Allister to start in the same side.

 

More midfield minutes for Gakpo

BOURNEMOUTH, ENGLAND - Sunday, January 21, 2024: Liverpool's Cody Gakpo during the FA Premier League match between AFC Bournemouth and Liverpool FC at Dean Court. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

It may not be the preferred solution for many, but Klopp has demonstrated on a number of occasions already this season that he trusts Cody Gakpo in midfield.

Of his 32 appearances so far this season, the Dutchman has featured seven times as a No. 8, including starts against Chelsea (1-1), Bournemouth (3-1) and Brentford (3-0).

As Mohamed Salah nears a return from his own hamstring injury, there is a chance Klopp turns to Gakpo the midfielder against the likes of Burnley and Luton.

 

Bradley to push Trent forward

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, January 28, 2024: Liverpool's Conor Bradley during the FA Cup 4th Round match between Liverpool FC and Norwich City FC at Anfield. Liverpool won 5-2. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Prior to the sad news of his father’s passing, there was a genuine debate over whether Klopp could simply leave Conor Bradley out to accommodate for Trent Alexander-Arnold‘s return.

In fact, with Alexander-Arnold not yet fully fit after a knee problem, all signs were that Bradley was set to make his sixth consecutive start against Arsenal.

Now, if Szoboszlai is out for a spell as expected, the manager could field both in the same side: Bradley, when he is ready to return, at right-back; Alexander-Arnold as an out-and-out midfielder.

 

Thiago’s chance for a swansong

LONDON, ENGLAND - Sunday, February 4, 2024: Liverpool's Thiago Alcântara during the FA Premier League match between Arsenal FC and Liverpool FC at the Emirates Stadium. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

A silver lining in the defeat at Arsenal was a brief cameo for Thiago, making his comeback after a full nine months out.

The Spaniard will almost certainly leave Liverpool at the end of the season, with his contract due to expire and no talks scheduled, and there had been fears that he had already played his last game after hip surgery.

But there is now an opportunity for a swansong for one of the greatest technical players in the club’s history.

Liverpool will be cautious with Thiago‘s game time as he continues his recovery, of course, but any absence for Szoboszlai could given him a chance to build up his minutes.

READ: How “Szoboszlai mania” has gripped Hungary’s new wave of Liverpool supporters