MANCHESTER CITY VS LIVERPOOL: PREDICTED LINEUP
Liverpool take on Manchester City tomorrow at Wembley in the FA Cup semi final. The two sides resume their rivalry after an exhilarating 2-2 draw at the Etihad last Sunday. Here’s how we think Jürgen Klopp will line his side up.
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The Reds are coming off the back of a 3-3 draw against Benfica where several changes were made to the side. Legs were rested with tomorrow’s match up in mind and we can be sure to see a return to the strongest available lineup tomorrow.
Alisson will continue in goal after being named the “FA Cup goalie” in the aftermath of the League Cup final victory. The Brazilian kept a clean sheet in the last round against Nottingham Forest and will have to be at his best again here.
Ahead of him, there should be returns to the side for Alexander-Arnold, Van Dijk and Robertson. The trio were all unused substitutes in midweek and should come into this encounter fresh and ready to go. Alongside Virgil will likely be Matip.
The midfield poses a question for the manager. They were too easily bypassed at the Etihad with Fabinho in particular struggling to deal with the intense press he was subjected to. De Bruyne was picking up all sorts of space and constantly running at the backline.
Bernardo Silva on the other hand dropped very deep for Guardiola’s side and dictated the game, with Henderson struggling to keep him under wraps. Thiago was the only one who seemed capable of keeping his composure in the face of City’s fierce press.
The gaffer has to decide whether to go with the same trio again or make a change in personnel. Fabinho and Thiago were restricted to cameos from the bench on Wednesday and are almost certain to start here. Whether it’s Henderson alongside them or Naby Keita remains to be seen.
Keita possesses the technical ability to beat a press and could be the key to exerting more control in midfield. The skipper has made the most appearances this season however and it is unlikely he’s dropped for such a huge fixture.
In attack, Klopp is really spoilt for choice. He’s chosen Mané, Jota and Salah as his front three in both games against City this season. Diogo picked up a knock against Benfica but is expected to be passed fit. He’s in good form, scoring or assisting in each of his last seven starts for club and country.
He can be more than a little lax in possession however, so I wonder if the manager would opt for a different option. Firmino netted a brace on Wednesday and offers that linkup play that Jota doesn’t, albeit without the obvious goal threat the Portuguese provides.
There’s also the wildcard that is Luis Diaz. The Colombian was once again electric against Benfica and presents a bit of an unknown option for the City defence to deal with. With Walker supposedly carrying a knock, Cancelo could be moved to the right and you’d fancy Diaz to cause him problems.
The ex Porto man was outstanding last time out at Wembley as he tormented the Chelsea backline (Chalobah in particular) in the League Cup final. He offers something different on the left wing and could be a real outlet if he’s handed a start.
Mané and Salah are almost automatic picks for this match especially after being rested from the start in midweek. They’ve caused City a myriad of problems in the past and were at it again last week when they combined for the second goal.
It’s a wonderful problem for Klopp to have as they all present a great option and bring something unique to the table. The wealth of attacking talent at the manager’s disposal could be the difference tomorrow (with five subs allowed) especially if the match goes into extra time and legs tire.
Alisson, Alexander-Arnold, Matip, Van Dijk, Robertson, Fabinho, Henderson, Thiago, Salah, Mané, Diaz.
Subs: Kelleher, Gomez, Konaté, Tsimikas, Milner, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Keita, Firmino, Jota.