‘Go for broke…’ – Podcast duo divided over Liverpool dilemma facing Jurgen Klopp this week

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Jurgen Klopp is facing a significant dilemma regarding his team selection for Liverpool’s Europa League quarter-final second leg against Atalanta, and the topic has divided opinion among pundits and journalists.

The Reds need something of a miracle to preserve their European campaign as they trail 3-0 from the first leg at Anfield, and Thursday night’s fixture in Bergamo is the first of four away matches in just 10 days as LFC also chase the Premier League title.

Momentum isn’t in our favour, having lost our two most recent games and gone three without a win for the first time all season, and debate has raged as to whether the manager should hold some key players in reserve for Sunday’s domestic clash at Fulham, given the improbability of us progressing in Europe.

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Speaking on the It’s All Kicking Off podcast (via Daily Mail), Chris Sutton said: “I think the nature of Jurgen Klopp, he’ll go strong. He has to because he might as well try and win everything, and being involved in so many competitions maybe has caught up with Liverpool. 

“The fact that they lost against [Crystal] Palace… had they beaten Palace, then maybe he could have thought along those lines of we’ll go for the Premier League because we’re still in command of that, but now he’s got to go for broke.”

However, Ian Ladyman thinks the incentive of a win at Craven Cottage ought to take priority, saying: “I would go reserves at Atalanta and then hope that his first team can make a statement performance away at Fulham next weekend, because you’ve got to realise [that] if they beat Fulham, they go ahead of [Manchester] City again.

“They go ahead of City. Psychologically, that could just give them a foothold.”

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You could make a case for both sides of the dilemma that Klopp is facing regarding his team selection for Thursday night.

On the one hand, he won’t want Liverpool to go out of Europe with a whimper, and he may be buoyed by their 5-0 win away to Atalanta when they last visited in November 2020. A repeat scoreline is highly unlikely but would see us advance to the semi-finals.

Conversely, the manager could deem it best to play the percentages and prioritise the Premier League, particularly as a win on Sunday could see us go top of the table for a couple of days at least.

Man City’s FA Cup fixture against Chelsea means they won’t be in top-flight action, so the Reds winning at Fulham would see us go above Pep Guardiola’s side, and potentially Arsenal too if they slip up away to Wolves on Saturday night.

Klopp has the relative luxury of nearly a full selection at his disposal, so he could reasonably make several alterations for both games without either starting XI necessarily being a ‘weak’ or second-string line-up.

Either way, we should expect most of the squad to feature in either or both of our next two fixtures, in the hope that those on the pitch can help us to a couple of wins and ensure that the recent blip doesn’t turn into a full-blown post-Easter malaise.

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