Who Will Benefit Most from Europa Thursdays?
This coming week represents the outset of Liverpool’s Europa League campaign, as the reds travel to the Raiffeisen Arena in Austria, to face off against from the nation’s 3rd placed team. Though many will have bemoaned the unfamiliar move to Thursday night football, this transitional season could be the exact moment to drop into a far less stressful European competition, for one season only, that is. As Tuesday and Wednesday nights will be spent observing our rival’s field strong elevens in their respective Champions League groups, Liverpool will be able to shuffle an entire pack of players (if Klopp so wishes), in preparation for West Ham’s trip to Anfield on Sunday.
Below I have listed the starting eleven I believe to be the current first choice, one that will be operating in our preferred 3-4-3 system. This transition-based system obviously pits the hybrid entirety into a right back slot (off-ball), though the players and their positions will be noted as on-ball quantities.
GK – Alisson Becker
RCB – Ibrahima Konaté
CB – Virgil van Dijk (c)
LCB – Andy Robertson
Hybrid – Trent Alexander Arnold
CDM – Alexis Mac Allister
RAM – Dominik Szoboszlai
LAM – Curtis Jones
RF – Mohamed Salah
CF – Darwin Núñez
LF – Luis Díaz
Every Liverpool supporter will have their own preference when it comes to who starts, however, it would be tough to discredit any of those listed above. Additionally, to those eleven first team players, I would say that Thiago Alcântara is the luxury squad option, that should never be pitted into the back up eleven I will be listing below. For the sake of positional
clarity and an inability to logically have a proven hybrid (without Trent), the backup group is based upon a 4-2-3-1 system of play.
GK – Caoimhin Kelleher
RB – Joe Gomez
RCB – Joël Matip
LCB – Jarell Quansah
LB – Konstantinos Tsimikas
CDM – Wataru Endō
CM – Ryan Gravenberch
RW – Harvey Elliott
ACM – Cody Gakpo
LW – Ben Doak
CF – Diogo Jota
This team would be my guess for how the predominant cup team lines up, until the latter stages at least. With Stefan Bajčetić and Thiago also waiting in the wings, it would give a great chance for certain players to gain solid minutes, in the knowledge that key individuals will be rested for the busy Premier League campaign.
Would you give Gravenberch his first Liverpool start in the Europa League? pic.twitter.com/yKI5Ibj8Zt
— Anything Liverpool (@AnythingLFC_) September 18, 2023
With regards to the players that will benefit the most, below is my top four players that can elevate their games within a competition that gives them freedom to progress.
It has taken just three appearances for me to fully appreciate the promise of this 20-year-old central defender. With a physicality to match both Ibou and Virgil, he could be groomed in-house, before hopefully taking his place in the first team later down the road. The calm and confident way he has started his Anfield career defies his youth, which means we may have finally produced the type of defensive unit that can be moulded into what his manager craves.
I would imagine that this young Dutch international has been told that the cup competitions are his to control and dominate, with a sporadic introduction to the Premier League alongside. The skill set of the 6ft 3inch former Ajax graduate seems limitless, which is why I am especially keen to see how he develops over the coming months. A low-key step into his Liverpool career may be the perfect opportunity for the £40m summer signing, especially after a disappointing season for Bayern Munich.
After a fantastic half season which saw the Dutch forward excel, reality seems to have set in, as this initial period of this campaign has been a struggle. In determining the best role for the former PSV man, this Europa League group stage will offer a less pressurised platform he may need to fully develop. The footballing package is there, yet the final product does seem something that needs refining. I expect many answers to be delivered in this year’s European tournament, which could solidify the place of Cody within the first teams ongoing regeneration.
The excitement levels are tremendously high around the former Celtic flyer; however, the young Scot appears unfazed by the attention that now surrounds his every footballing step. As a teenage prodigy, his explosive speed and direct nature could be the perfect mix for a limited array of opposition. As we close in on the end of Mohamed Salah’s Liverpool reign, this could be the season that a new wide man grows into what the next iteration of this team may need.
Thoughts on this #LFC team for Thursday?
Thoughts are Stefan Bajcetic has been injured for so long he’s probably best off with minutes from the bench.
Konate and VVD need 45 minutes in the legs at least to get them up to speed for West Ham. pic.twitter.com/FSLomzJmOn
— – (@JoshLFC1909) September 18, 2023