One of the big questions I have after yesterday’s impressive 3-0 first leg win over Manchester City was that who will start over the weekend against Everton.
Obviously the Merseyside Derby is a big deal and a top 4 spot is not locked up yet. Yes, the lead over Chelsea is 10, but Chelsea does have a game in hand. If they win that the lead drops to 7 and if Liverpool would lose to Everton and Chelsea would beat West Ham at home this weekend the lead could go to 4 real quick. So, it’s imperative to keep winning no matter how far we go in the Champions League, yes the Champions is a higher priority for me, but we want to make sure they we’re back there again next season. This season is a complete success if it ends with the semifinals and a top 4 finish. Of course I want to win the whole damn thing and if they beat City I think they can win the whole damn thing, but they don’t have to in order to call this a success.
The team has gotten better each season Klopp has been here, you never know what the off-season could bring, but with Navy Keita coming in and with the Jorginho rumors being real hot next season could even be more special than this one already has been.
But at the same time we can’t be looking ahead we have to live in the moment. And right now in that moment we have Man City on the ropes and if we can find one goal at the Ethiad next Tuesday we should be able to bury them. To get to semi’s which like I said would signify this season as a major success. In order to do that we can’t run out the same 11 that we ran out against City in the first leg we need to give some guys a rest in order we’re at our best coming into Tuesday.
The one thing that makes this a bit problematic is that the squad is dealing with a bit of an injury crisis. Not having Adam Lallana, Joe Gomez, Ragnar Klavan, Ben Woodburn, and Joel Matip makes rotating a bit more difficult than you would prefer, but either way a roatation is necessary.
This is what I would do. Karius can start in goal I’m not really ever worried about a goalies fitness.
I would give Nathaniel Cylne the start at right back. Clyne hasn’t played yet this season, he probably would have been the starter at the beginning of the season had he not been injured at the start of the season and just found his way back about a week ago, but right now with Gomez out we need Clyne to be healthy but he needs some game time to shake the rust away. It may be a bit of a risk to throw him to the wolves in the Merseyside Derby but he is a cool customer, he may be a little conservative but he’s more conservative than TAA is anyhow. TAA is going to be asked to do a lot against City on Tuesday so I would to see him get the rest, like I said it is a bit of a risk but the depth is what it is right now Trent needs a day off and Clyne needs game action so this is as good of a time as any.
Here I am very conflicted I wouldn’t hate giving either the day off but the fact that the next 400 Center Backs are out injured there really aren’t very many options to go with. So, were pretty much stuck with this. Dejan Lovren is an easy choice he didn’t play much against Crystal Palace last Saturday and I think having him alongside Cylne versus an inexperienced kid is a wise move.
For the other center back spot I would love to give Virgil van Dijk the day off but at the same time the only real option is Conor Masterson and I just am not ready to throw him to the wolves in this game. I get he has a lot of potential but the Derby is an intense affair sure Everton doesn’t offer the best attacking prowess but at the same time it would be a lot to put on a kid like Masterson so we have to with van Dijk.
This is a no-brainer for me. Andrew Robertson has become a huge part of the team. Like we should send Hull a fruit basket or something for selling him to us for €8 million when for instance Kyle Walker went to City for €50 million. Walker is a great player and all but Robertson is as good as anyone in the Premier League at his position and the price we paid for him is one of the biggest steals you’ll ever see.
So knowing how big Robertson is for this club and how hard he works every second on the pitch he could use the rest. He doesn’t ever get tired but at the same time I think giving him a break is a wise move, he worked his ass off against City and will be asked to do a lot in the second leg so giving him a rest this weekend can’t hurt.
Plus Alberto Moreno could use a game. I’ve never been a big fan of his. I was one of the few calling for Robertson early in the season when Moreno was playing his best football he’s ever played with Liverpool, he was flawless really, he wasn’t making the mistakes that always had plauged him so if he can do that Saturday he’ll be fine, but I just felt like Robertson had a bigger upside and on this occasion I was right but for this game Moreno is the right call.
There maybe are a few more options here. Jordan Henderson has to be in. He got himself suspended for the second leg so he has to be in since his services won’t be needed on Tuesday. From there I think I would go with Gini Wijnaldum as James Milner needs a day off. He’s like 80 years old and needs some rest before Tuesday because I want him in the same role he was for the first leg.
The last choice is where I really wish Adam Lallana was healthy. I think if Emre Can is 100% I would play him but if he still needs a few days off cause he will be needed for Tuesday with Henderson suspended then I guess Oxlade-Chamberlain will be needed even though I would like to give him the day off as well but this is the problem with this injury crisis as some lads are going to be needed.
But as I am writing this I saw some alarming news as the Mirror is reporting that Can’s back injury is going to keep him out for the rest of the season, if this is true this is going to be a real problem now that Henderson is suspended for the City game next week on a play that wasn’t necessary. If this Can news is true we could be in a real world of hurt come Tuesday. Our midfield would likely be Milner, Wijnaldum, and Oxlade-Chamberlain and being a holding midfielder is certainly not the role I want Milner playing. So with all that it looks like it has to be Oxlade-Chamberlain .
One more note on Can. This news if very confusing to me since Jurgen Klopp said he was going to be close for City so I figured he wasn’t quite ready and they just didn’t want to risk Can. I guess he could have aggravated it but the timing of this report seems very odd.
I think here you have to give Mo Salah a rest either way. If he is fine like he said that’s great but there is no reason to risk him against Everton, but if it is something more than he would obviously be unavailable.
The same would go with Robert Firmino for me he had one of those games against City that besides the work on Salah’s opener a lot of his work went unnoticed but he was incredible in the game. His movement which is his best assest was absolutely amazing, combined with how hard he worked all night he needs a rest, so with giving Firmino and Salah the game off that means Danny Ings and Dom Solanke will be in. I would live to give Sadio Mane a rest as well, but we really don’t have anyone else to play even if we changed the formation to accommodate, but we don’t have enough bodies. Like if we wanted to go 4-2-3-1 we could play Solanke up top, then play Henderson and Wijnaldum in midifeld. Oxlade-Chamberlain and Mane could be wings but that would just leave us with Ings anyways so we may as well stick to our normal formation. We don’t have the center backs to play a back 3 so this injury crisis is starting to really scare me. So much to play for yet and we’re at the point of where we are in real danger of being able to play a lineup that allows us to compete on Tuesday against City and beyond if we win, but also makes me a little scared about the top 4 finish because we are at the point where will have to play someone who shouldn’t be out there.
To recap this is how I feel they should lineup on Saturday:
Karius, Clyne, Lovren, van Dijk, Moreno, Henderson, Wijnaldum, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Mane, Solanke, and Ings.
That’s 5 changes more than you would normally want for Everton but Klopp has to have his best team possible available for City that’s the bigger fish right now, if not for the injury crisis this would be no big thing but with this injury crisis this is the best they can do right now. That lineup scares me a bit but Klopp has to do what he has to do and unfortunately this may give those blue clowns some bragging rights, but I would sacrifice losing to an irrelevant team to get to the semifinals any day of the week.