Footballing Authorities Make a Decision
Incredibly, the footballing authorities have decided to do the right thing for once by overturning Alexis Mac Allister’s harsh red card against Bournemouth.
Fortunately, Liverpool didn’t drop any points at home to the Cherries last Saturday, but it was yet another reminder of the woeful officiating on show at the moment.
Having Mac Allister available for this weekend’s tough-looking trip to Newcastle United is a huge boost for the Reds, in what will be a big gauge of where the two teams are at currently.
Newcastle’s Recent Form
The Magpies lost only 1-0 away to Manchester City in their last outing. Their 5-1 win at home to Aston Villa on the opening weekend suggests they could step up this season.
If Liverpool start the way they did against Bournemouth, they could be out of the game within 20 minutes, so it is vital that we see a more polished performance from Jurgen Klopp’s side.
Midfield Decisions for Klopp
The question is: who starts in midfield for the Reds now that Mac Allister is free to play?
Given the level of opposition, Liverpool need to be as tight and well-drilled as possible in the middle of the park, and while he hasn’t exactly had long to adjust to his new surroundings, Wataru Endo should start in the No.6 role.
There was enough evidence on his first Reds appearance to suggest that he could slot in fairly comfortably, with his dynamic style and ability to cover ground something that could be priceless at St James’ Park.
In his short time on the pitch on his Reds debut, Endo made two clearances, and one tackle and interception apiece, and he needs to be trusted on Sunday afternoon, especially as an experienced head who has won 50 caps for his country.
That would then allow Mac Allister to push into his more natural No.8 role, having done fairly well deeper in the opening two matches, but understandably not having the box-to-box influence we know he can.
The Argentine did his best anchoring the midfield, but he is still a naturally forward-thinking player, and Newcastle could profit from him staying in that deep-lying position this weekend.
Dominik Szoboszlai’s Impact
With Mac Allister to the left, Dominik Szoboszlai is then an absolute shoo-in to the right of him, having enjoyed an Anfield debut to treasure last time around.
The 22-year-old was a joy to watch, both on and off the ball. While we should be cautious about getting too excited over a new signing from RB Leipzig who took the No.8 shirt (someone else with the same background started brilliantly too), it’s hard not to feel thrilled about him.
The Endo-Mac Allister-Szoboszlai triumvirate feels like a no-brainer for the much-anticipated showdown with Newcastle, giving Liverpool their most balanced midfield of the season so far, and affording them the best opportunity of victory over the Magpies.
Of course, there may be teething issues, considering they have never played together as a unit, but with Curtis Jones out injured, and the likes of Thiago and Stefan Bajcetic lacking match fitness, it is the most sensible trio at Klopp’s disposal.
Is there a chance that Endo struggles being thrown in at the deep end? Yes. Could Mac Allister struggle to fire in the No.8 role straight after being in the 6? Maybe.
But there are question marks surrounding the other midfielders who haven’t been picked to take on the Magpies, too, and this looks like the strongest unit to pick up a positive result.