Injuries to key players may have limited Jurgen Klopp’s options somewhat but they have by no means made his job of picking a starting lineup any easier.
The German faces the tough task of deciding whether to keep his faith in the same setup that was used in last weekend’s 2-1 win over Stoke or to revert back to a more familiar Liverpool formation.
Fitness doubts over Roberto Firmino have left it unclear as to what kind of role he will play against West Brom on Sunday, yet we remain confident the Brazilian will be available to feature from the start. Klopp recently explained how the forward, who started on the bench against Stoke, was being managed in order to monitor potential fatigue and the likelihood of him picking up a muscular injury as a result. Given the importance of this weekend’s fixture, however, we suspect the club will ensure Firmino is fit in time to line-up as the central figure between Divock Origi and Philippe Coutinho, who also came on at half time last time out. That said, there remains a case for the idea Daniel Sturridge could also be in contention to start having looked sharp in his 20 minute cameo against Stoke last weekend.
At the other end of the pitch, we expect to see Klopp keep his faith in a back three of Ragnar Klavan, Joel Matip and Dejan Lovren, not only as a temporary alternative amidst the team’s current injury crisis but also as a way of combating West Brom’s aerial power. The trio looked nervy in the first half against Stoke but have the potential to be an ideal foundation that will grant the likes of Coutinho and Firmino even more freedom as the team pushes for a top four finish. It is a system Liverpool’s defenders have had little time to adjust to but one Lovren himself has recently claimed he enjoys playing in.
This, in turn, would push James Milner and Nathaniel Clyne into more advanced positions either side of Georginio Wijnaldum and Emre Can. Four men who promise to implement the intensity and the work rate that will undoubtedly be needed if Liverpool are to have any chance of overcoming a well-organised and physical West Brom side.
We are at the stage of the season where it doesn’t have to be pretty, it doesn’t have to be Liverpool at their attacking best. A win is all that matters.