Liverpool travel to the Etihad Stadium this Sunday as they face Manchester City in the biggest game of the Premier League season so far.
Jürgen Klopp has some testing decisions to make all over the pitch regarding his starting eleven. Will Joël Matip come straight back in? Does Diogo Jota have to start? If so, is Roberto Firmino the one to be dropped? What midfield trio should he go with? Let’s take a look at all these questions now.
Klopp is without Virgil van Dijk, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Fabinho for Sunday’s fixture while Thiago Alcântara is also a doubt for The Reds. The Spain international midfielder will face a late fitness test this week to determine if he is available for selection.
Joël Matip, Kostas Tsimikas and Naby Keïta all returned to the matchday squad for Liverpool’s 5-0 win in Italy during the week. I think Matip and Keïta could well start this game against City. Matip’s experience in defence will be hugely beneficial, as will Keïta’s energy in midfield.
Klopp has experimented a little with a 4-2-3-1 shape in recent weeks, mainly to facilitate Diogo Jota. After the Portuguese forward’s hat-trick against Atalanta, it’s almost impossible to imagine Jota not being in the team to face City. However, it’s entirely feasible with Klopp possibly reverting to the usual 4-3-3 formation to provide more stability in midfield. Firmino could also come back in to lead the pressing charge from the front against Pep Guardiola’s men.
With three in midfield, that leaves room for Naby Keïta to start alongside Jordan Henderson and Gini Wijnaldum. James Milner will probably make an appearance in the second half but I’d be surprised to see him starting this one.
Predicted Liverpool lineup (4-3-3) vs Manchester City: Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Matip, Gomez, Robertson; Henderson, Wijnaldum, Keïta; Salah, Firmino, Mané
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