International breaks have been a source of great consternation for clubs, with Arsenal’s title run last term perhaps a prime example of how a stay away from the pitch can utterly derail momentum.
Paul Merson reckons it could spell trouble for Liverpool ahead of their upcoming visit to the Molineux on Saturday where they’re set to take on Wolves at the dreaded 12:30pm kick-off time.
Writing in his Sportskeeda column, the Sky Sports pundit said: “A Saturday morning game after an international break is always a hard one to call as most players – at least from the so-called top six sides – go away to represent their countries. It acts as a bit of a leveler and is a huge advantage, so Liverpool will have to be wary of that.
“It’s particularly hard for South Americans like Alexis Mac Allister and Luis Diaz, but the Reds might be able to get away with rotating a few players. Mac Allister will probably start, but Liverpool can afford to bench Diaz as the likes of Cody Gakpo and Diogo Jota – who both scored for their countries in the international break – are waiting patiently on the wings.”
Beyond our South American contingent, the following players also linked up with their respective nations:
- Scotland: Andy Robertson
- Japan: Wataru Endo
- Hungary: Dominik Szoboszlai
- Republic of Ireland: Caomhin Kelleher
- England U21s: Harvey Elliott
- Egypt: Mo Salah
Considering only the potential starters (and excluding injury concerns like Darwin Nunez) in Mo Salah, Alisson Becker (travelled but didn’t play), Dominik Szoboszlai, Wataru Endo, Andy Robertson, Harvey Elliott, Cody Gakpo, Diogo Jota, Alexis Mac Allister and Luis Diaz, Jurgen Klopp and Co. may have a few players worth keeping a close eye on ahead of the trip to the West Midlands when factoring in travel distance and playing time.
The former Gunners man did go on to predict a 2-1 win for the Merseysiders away from home, however, citing the host’s poor start to their Premier League campaign.
The tables appear to have turned once again for the Wanderers with Julen Lopetegui’s exit sparking chaos amid a swathe of high-profile exits, including that of prize midfielder Ruben Neves.
Even amid all the turmoil, we must beware of the impact of the 12:30pm kick-off that was the bane of our 2022/23 season.
We’ve injected some serious quality into the squad, and the midfield in particular, since that point of course, which should go some way to allowing us to control the middle of the park and, hopefully, the direction of the game at large.
Judging by reports from the training ground, however, there’s a very real possibility we may need to do so without the creative talents of Trent Alexander-Arnold.