Who Should Start the Midweek Contest…?

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The Aftermath of the Merseyside Derby

With the beautiful finale of the first Merseyside derby of the 2023/24 season, now comes the move into yet another Europa League encounter. The reds currently hold a 100% record in their group stage endeavours, with the hope of another win (this coming Thursday) cementing their place in the next round of the tournament. The continual rotation of the talented squad in the early stages of their cup competitions, means that Jürgen Klopp can tackle the upcoming Christmas schedule with a raft of players that have enjoyed sufficient game time, whereas key individuals would have been allowed rest periods between their weekend outings. This kind of routine will undoubtedly assist this Liverpool 2.0 in their pursuit of silverware this season, as their secondary European exploits ensure the second half of the season can be tackled with force.

After a successful 2-0 against their nearby neighbours, Everton, the Anfield deck will once more be shuffled for the visit of their third Europa League opponents, Toulouse. The clarity in the reds first team elite remains slightly unclear, as each passing week sees either a suspension, an injury, or an international period, creating havoc in maintaining a desired first eleven. The ongoing injuries to Thiago Alcântara and Stefan Bajčetić, have coincided with the domestic suspension enforced upon the unlucky Curtis Jones. This moment has created an opportunity for Ryan Gravenberch to emerge, with the giant Dutchman hoping to retain his Premier League place for the visit of Nottingham Forest on Sunday afternoon. The starting roles of both Ibrahima Konaté and Diogo Jota (against Everton) still means that the Thursday night eleven may still be a very strong group of players, given the depth of the current squad.

 

Predicted Starting XI Against Toulouse

Above is the red men’s next five fixtures, which must now be navigated to ensure success through three differing competitions. Below is the team I expect to start against the Ligue 1 team, Toulouse, this very midweek.

GK – Caoimhin Kelleher

RB – Joe Gomez (c)

RCB – Joël Matip

LCB – Jarell Amorin Quansah

LB – Calum Scanlon

RCM – Harvey Elliott

CDM – Wataru Endō

LCM – Curtis Jones

RW – Ben Doak

CF – Darwin Núñez

LW – Cody Gakpo

The above is a lovely blend of experience and youth, with all players fighting to stay in the thoughts of their illustrious German head coach. If Caoimhin Kelleher is deemed not ready for this game (after receiving twelve stitches to his knee), then I hope Vítězslav Jaroš is considered ahead of our Brazilian number one. The unfortunate and long-term injury to Andy Robertson, means that Calum Scanlon could be in line for a start against their French opponents. Joe Gomez has impressed as both the central and flanking defensive piece so far this campaign, however, the inclusion of the ultra-talented Jarell Quansah, means a start for the England 11-cap England international will likely be in the hybrid position. Curtis Jones will have to continue to gain appearances in the two cups’ (until after the weekend), when his three-match suspension will have run its course. Given that, and the continued uncertainty surrounding the availability of our Spanish maestro, Thiago, Ryan Gravenberch should be confident of keeping his place for the game on Sunday. Harvey Elliott should absolutely be rewarded with a start, whereas Wataru Endō desperately needs ninety minutes in a Liverpool shirt.

 

Key Players and Selection Decisions

Despite another successful cameo performance by Liverpool’s infectious Uruguayan, Darwin Núñez, at the weakened, I doubt that any of Diogo Jota, Mohamed Salah, or Luis Díaz, will start on Thursday evening. Both Cody Gakpo and Ben Doak will want to add minutes to their legs, therefore, unless either player is not ready to start this game, they should complete the starting eleven. I am very much enjoying seeing the entire width of this exciting group utilised, in the knowledge that long term growth will only add to the ongoing regeneration.

Next up, Toulouse.

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