Headache for Newcastle Clash
Liverpool are set to make enforced changes to their starting lineup in their clash against Newcastle United on Sunday, following Alexis Mac Allister’s red card against Bournemouth on Saturday.
The Argentine saw red after his challenge on Ryan Christie was ridiculously deemed as reckless and dangerous, bringing his Anfield debut to an early end in the same way as Darwin Nunez 12 months ago.
Although the Reds are set to appeal against the decision, as it stands Mac Allister will miss Liverpool’s next three domestic games against Newcastle, Aston Villa, and Wolves.
James Pearce has also today reported that Liverpool are unlikely to sign another defensive midfielder before the end of the transfer window, following the signing of Wataru Endo from Stuttgart last week.
With Curtis Jones also missing from Jurgen Klopp’s squad against Bournemouth along with the already injured Thiago Alcantara, he could be faced with a major dilemma ahead of the weekend’s game.
The likely midfield three:
This would potentially leave Klopp with just Wataru Endo, Dominik Szobozslai, Harvey Elliott, and Stefan Bajcetic as the only senior midfield options for the Newcastle clash.
The latter of those options, Stefan Bajcetic, is unlikely to be fit enough to start the game after only being named on the bench for the first time in over four months in the victory over Bournemouth on Saturday.
We could potentially see Cody Gakpo be operated in the midfield three in the same fashion as in the Reds’ opening two Premier League games against Chelsea and Bournemouth.
Ultimately this would mean Liverpool’s likely midfield three against Newcastle United would be Wataru Endo, Dominik Szobozslai, and Cody Gakpo.
I struggle to see Jurgen Klopp throwing Harvey Elliott back into the starting lineup away at Newcastle, after only playing 26 minutes across the two opening games from the bench.
Similarly, I don’t expect to see Stefan Bajcetic rushed back from injury anytime soon, perhaps until Thiago Alcantara is back in training, but I’m sure both Spaniards will have an important part to play in Liverpool’s season.
The need for another midfielder:
Well, it took a huge two games before everyone’s fears of a lack of midfield depth have come to fruition and the need for another midfielder is already looking like a necessity.
Jurgen Klopp’s selection list is already looking bare in the middle of the park, with just seven midfielders to choose from even if they are all fit and available.
However, it is unlikely that this will ever be the case due to the injury records of a few of those players.
For example, Curtis Jones has already missed 26 games through injury since 2021 despite being just 22-years-old.
A bone stress injury kept him out for ten games last season, before returning and breaking into Klopp’s starting lineup over the last couple of months.
More worryingly, 32-year-old Thiago Alcantara has an even worse injury record for the Reds since joining from Bayern Munich in 2021.
The Spaniard has missed 72 games through injury, with a wide range of muscular injuries and a knee injury being the worst of it.
The fact that we are already scrambling for a midfield in the third game of the season speaks volumes about Liverpool’s need for another midfielder, whether it be Crystal Palace’s Cheick Doucoure or Bayern Munich’s Ryan Gravenberch.
I strongly believe that this final midfield signing could end up being the difference between a good season for the Reds and a bitterly disappointing one.
After months of putting in light work across a large range of targets, the Reds have just one week to make a final but solid push for one more midfielder.