Liverpool’s historic rivalry with Manchester United enters a new chapter on Thursday as we host the Red Devils at Anfield in the first ever European meeting between the sides.
Empire of the Kop has predicted the starting XI that Jurgen Klopp will choose for the first leg of the Europa League last-16 tie – the biggest match left in our season as it stands.
Nathaniel Clyne’s return at right-back is likely to be the only change to the back five from Sunday’s 2-1 win over Crystal Palace, with the ineligible Jon Flanagan to make way.
Klopp has admitted in the Echo that leaving Flanagan out of the Europa League squad was a mistake, although he may not have played two games in four days anyway.
Dejan Lovren has been excellent in his two games since returning from injury, which is just as well because Kolo Toure was unlucky to be dropped as Mamadou Sakho’s defensive partner.
With Lucas Leiva still sidelined, the central midfield three picks itself. James Milner was sent off against Palace but, of course, his suspension only applies in domestic matches.
However, the Echo reports that our vice-captain is a fitness doubt after missing training because of a virus. Joe Allen would likely deputise if Milner does not recover in time.
It is in the attacking trio where Klopp has some selection quandaries, although he gave an indication into his thoughts by resting Philippe Coutinho and Daniel Sturridge against Palace.
And ultimately that is the right call – to preserve them for the United game. Adam Lallana and Divock Origi have been bright of late, but Coutinho and Sturridge are our class acts.
Christian Benteke is still highly unlikely to start despite his stoppage-time winner at Selhurst Park, but his presence on the bench alongside Lallana and Origi gives us plenty of options.
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