Liverpool’s Selection Dilemma Assessed
Team Injuries and Suspensions
Liverpool may face a number of selection issues ahead of their trip to Wolves next weekend.
With the international break upon us, Jurgen Klopp will be hoping for several returns to his squad over the week.
As it stands, both of Klopp’s right-back options look set to miss the Premier League clash against Wolves.
Trent Alexander-Arnold is set to be sidelined for three weeks with a hamstring issue, while Conor Bradley might face a long-term absence with a suspected back injury.
Ibou Konate also remains a potential doubt after missing the matches against Newcastle United and Aston Villa.
Virgil Van Dijk will also be missing after his suspension from his red card at St. James’ Park was extended last week.
Thus, Klopp has only Andy Robertson, Kostas Tsimikas, Joel Matip, Joe Gomez, and Jarrell Quansah left as first-team defensive options.
Elsewhere on the pitch, Thiago Alcantara is set to return after the international break.
How could Klopp solve this dilemma?
Tactically, it seems most logical to use a centre-back partnership of Joel Matip and Jarrell Quansah.
With Trent Alexander-Arnold absent, this would leave Andy Robertson and Joe Gomez as the two full-backs.
The glaring issue in this solution would be the weight of expectation on the shoulders of Jarrell Quansah, who has only made two senior appearances previously for the Reds.
There’s still hope that Ibou Konate might return in time for the Wolves clash to partner Joel Matip in defence instead.
Alternatively, there could be an opening for versatile veteran Wataru Endo to slot into a defensive position if absolutely desperate.
However, I do expect Klopp to give Quansah an opportunity in the starting lineup after his impressive performances in pre-season and from the bench in recent games.
Team Performance in Crisis
How will Liverpool cope?
Liverpool has managed the absences of Virgil Van Dijk and Ibou Konate quite well, with the impressive performance against Aston Villa being the most notable reference point.
Joe Gomez was fantastic in the second half against Newcastle United and also throughout the whole 90 minutes against Villa.
The Reds have a fantastic record when either Van Dijk or Konate features, proving how important they are to Klopp’s side.
Since his arrival in January 2018, Van Dijk has a 69.78% win percentage at Liverpool with 157 wins in 225 games for the Reds.
Similarly, Konate boasts a win percentage of 65.45% with 36 wins in 55 games.
In fairness, Joel Matip and Joe Gomez also have impressive records, with win percentages of 62.96% and 64.2% respectively.
Perhaps the biggest loss to Klopp’s tactical system could be Trent Alexander-Arnold, who has very rarely been injured during his career so far.
With no direct replacement for the vice-captain, Klopp may need to put some heavy thought into this dilemma.
Review of Summer Transfers
How could this have been prevented?
The one major criticism of Liverpool’s summer transfer business was the lack of signings in the defensive positions.
The opening weeks of the season have already validated that criticism, with the Reds having to rely on youngster Jarrell Quansah already.
With just four senior centre-back options and one senior right-back, the Reds should’ve definitely signed a versatile defender in the summer.
Plenty of names had been linked with a move to Anfield, with the likes of Jurrien Timber, Benjamin Pavard and Goncalo Inacio all being smart options.