As the final international break of the season draws to a close, we take a look at what may well be Liverpool’s starting eleven when they face Spurs at Anfield this Sunday.
According to the last update we heard from Jurgen Klopp, Liverpool slight injury concerns regarding Xherdan Shaqiri (Osteitis pubis) and Naby Keita. However, both players are expected to be back fit and available for this Sunday.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Joe Gomez are also continuing their recovery and we can expect to see them gradually reintroduced to the first-team during April. This Sunday might still be too soon for either player to make the bench, however.
Klopp confirmed to Liverpoolfc.com yesterday that Gomez has indeed returned to full training as the physio team look to build his strength back up after 15 weeks out.
“It is nice – Joe is not injured anymore and nearly fit.
“He has to work on his endurance, that’s how it is and how the boys always have to do it like Ox had to do it when he was finally back in training.
“After a long time, I think Joe was out for 15 weeks, that is long, so he needs to now create the basis again for the rest of the season.”
Oxlade-Chamberlain suffered a muscle issue in his 40-minute appearance for the U23s on March 8th and has been on a specialist training programme since. Klopp insists it was just a minor setback and that he expects The Ox to be back in full first-team training again within the next week or so.
“Ox is positive, we are all positive. It was a little setback, it was not more, but it was a setback. That’s how it is.
“You don’t want to be overly sensitive after a period like this because they train a lot – training is always like this, it’s like stress for the body. You feel something, but you don’t want to mention everything because it [can be] DOMS [delayed onset muscle soreness].
“It was the case with him, it was a little bit more than DOMS, but not really [serious]. We are careful of course, he is working, he is doing a lot and I think will be in training in a week again. Then he will be fine.”
As long as all Reds on international duty return to Melwood with a clean bill of health then Klopp will realistically only be without Gomez and Oxlade-Chamberlain on Sunday.
That means it’s decision time for Herr Klopp.
So, here’s my shout.
Goalkeeper, Alisson, of course.
The backline will consist of the usual four players we’ve grown used to back there in the absence of Gomez and Dejan Lovren. Trent Alexander-Arnold will be at right-back with Andy Robertson on the left. The central pairing will be Joel Matip alongside Virgil van Dijk.
Midfield, as always, is where Klopp will have the toughest choices to make. I expect to see Fabinho at the base of the Liverpool midfield. The Brazilian international was only involved in a few minutes of last night’s 3-1 win for the Selecao against the Czech Republic in Prague. James Milner, who retired from international duty in 2016, should be chomping at the bit to return to action and I think he will start in the middle, as will Gini Wijnaldum.
Jordan Henderson played 90 minutes in England’s 5-0 win over the Czech Republic as well as another 25 minutes in the 5-1 win against Montenegro on Monday night. He may have to settle for a place on the bench this weekend.
Yes, Wijnaldum played two full 90-minute games over the break but the Netherlands’ fixtures were a day ahead of England’s schedule (last Thursday and Sunday) so he will have had a full week of ‘rest’ before the Spurs game. Also, Wijnaldum seems to be more important to Klopp’s midfield system at Liverpool than Henderson, Milner or Naby Keita.
Up front, Mohamed Salah should be psyched for this game as he was left out of Egypt’s squad on this occasion. He scored twice in the 2-2 draw with Spurs at Anfield last season so we know he likes this fixture.
Roberto Firmino got on the scoresheet in Brazil’s 3-1 win over the Czech Republic last night. He played 60 minutes in the 1-1 draw with Panama before that and almost the full 90 minutes in Prague. Despite this, I expect Klopp to call on him this Sunday from the start.
Sadio Mané carried his fine Liverpool form into the international break. The Reds’ number 10 played the full game as Senegal beat Madagascar 2-0 in their African Cup of Nations qualifier on Saturday. Last night, Mané came off the bench after 76 minutes to score the equaliser and set up the winner for his country as they came from behind to win 2-1 against Mali in a friendly.
Below is my predicted starting eleven for the Spurs game this weekend. Go easy on me in the comments 🙂
Predicted Liverpool lineup for Spurs game: Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Matip, Van Dijk, Robertson; Fabinho, Wijnaldum, Milner; Salah, Firmino, Mané
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