Jurgen Klopp announced today that Liverpool could be without three more players for Sunday’s game against Crystal Palace due to injury.
Joel Matip, Ragnar Klavan and Lucas Leiva have all been labelled as doubts for this weekend’s match at Anfield, adding to the club’s injury crisis.
The Reds will of course also be without Sadio Mane, who is out for the remainder of the season, captain Jordan Henderson, who hasn’t featured since February, and Adam Lallana, who is only just returning to fitness.
All setbacks that promise to give Klopp a tough task when it comes to selecting a starting eleven. Though we would by no means wish to be in his current position, we have pondered a few potential line-ups on behalf of the German…
Modern day football seemingly demands complexity and genius tactical decisions- a new idea of ‘convention’. Klopp is by no means a man to abide by convention, so don’t be surprised to see him keep the same formation, replace a centre-back with another centre-back, a left-back with a left-back and put a midfielder in midfield.
With Matip and Klavan doubtful to play, there is a chance Joe Gomez will slot in beside Dejan Lovren. The 19-year-old returned from a long-term knee injury earlier this season and, despite having not played a lot of football for the first team, is someone Klopp thinks extremely highly of. That said, it would certainly be a difficult game to throw the youngster into given the threat Christian Benteke poses. A huge test but one Klopp won’t be afraid to put the defender up against.
Elsewhere, Alberto Moreno could come in at left-back with James Milner moving into midfield to replace Lucas. Simple. Simple until you realise an in-form Wilfried Zaha is likely to play on the right. Moreno has to be concentrating and matching his opponent from the start, not only to avoid being exposed himself but to protect Gomez and Lovren by stopping the supply to Benteke. The rest of the team remains self-explanatory. An unchanged front three from the win at West Brom and Emre Can and Georginio Wijnaldum welcoming Milner into midfield.
If one of Matip, Klavan or Lucas were to bE fit in time, there is also the possibility Klopp would opt for a back three, thereby moving Milner and Clyne into wing-back positions and leaving Wijnaldum and Can as the holding midfield duo. That’s a big ‘if’, though.
A less likely alternative but certainly one that Klopp will be tempted into considering. The eye-opening decisions in a 4-2-3-1 Liverpool side would undoubtedly come in the attacking areas of the pitch with a quartet of Philippe Coutinho, Roberto Firmino, Divock Origi and Daniel Sturridge appearing the most likely fit.
It is so often said that it seems futile to pin any Liverpool forward down to one position given the extent of their interchanging. It’s for this reason that starting Sturridge from the right doesn’t appear as worrying on paper as it perhaps may have done in the past. Either one of Firmino, Sturridge or Origi could play as the main central striker. Both Firmino or Sturridge could also play just behind the front man or even from the right. The way Coutinho has returned to form, however, means Klopp will be keen to keep the Brazilian playing primarily from the left. All eyes would be on Sturridge in this scenario and whether or not he can match the work rate and intensity of those around him. A combination of all four surely promises goals, though, which is why Klopp will find it difficult to overlook this option. A 4-2-3-1 would also allow Milner to stay at left-back as perhaps more reliable protection for Gomez and Lovren.