LIVERPOOL VS CRYSTAL PALACE: PREDICTED LINEUP
Liverpool host Crystal Palace tomorrow night (8pm BST) as they seek to get their first three points on the board after a frustrating draw at Craven Cottage last week. Here’s how we expect Jürgen Klopp to line his side up for the encounter.
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There are a number of noticeable absentees for Liverpool, with up to eight players expected to miss out. Kelleher, Ramsay, Konaté, Matip, Jones, Thiago, Oxlade-Chamberlain and Jota are all pretty much ruled out.
The manager can still call on a strong enough side for the challenge ahead however, with the depth of his squad being tested early on this season. Naby Keita and Kostas Tsimikas return to fitness has at least boosted the options available.
In goal will be Alisson Becker. The Brazilian missed majority of pre-season with an abdominal injury and didn’t look at his sharpest last week. Hopefully that 90 minute outing and subsequent full week of training will aid him in that regard.
In the backline, Matip’s groin injury will see one change from the defence that started at Fulham last week. Joe Gomez is expected to come in for what will be his first Premier League start at centre back since November 2020.
It’s been a frustrating 12 months for Joe in terms of playing time as he’s fallen behind Joel Matip and Ibrahima Konaté in the pecking order. He was limited to just four league starts last season, all of which came at right back.
It’s a far cry from the highs of 2019/20 when he formed a resolute title winning partnership with Virgil Van Dijk. That season remains the best of his young career so far, as he made 28 league appearances and 22 starts, both career high tallies.
He only got his chance that season after injuries to Dejan Lovren and Matip. That will be the blueprint for him. Tomorrow night is his opportunity to stake a claim for more minutes. His recovery pace will definitely be required against Palace’s pace on the counter.
The midfield selection will be very intriguing, with a lot of focus on Jürgen Klopp’s options (or lack thereof). The manager stuck to his guns in his pre-match press conference and once again defended the club’s stance to not dip into the market.
With Keita returning to fitness after illness, the manager could choose to go with the straightforward choice of replacing the injured Thiago with the Guinean. That would see him line up alongside Fabinho and Henderson.
That trio have played together on countless occasions, even starting the League Cup final against Chelsea last season. Harvey Elliott presents another option. The teenager came off the bench to good effect against City and Fulham.
The only problem is the youngster’s inclusion would likely see the skipper switched to the left of midfield, a position he doesn’t seem comfortable in. To get around this, Keita and Elliott could be picked to play together, with either Henderson or Fabinho in the holding role.
There is of course the option of the veteran James Milner. He’s another who has come on in both games this season to good effect. Whichever trio (or duo in case we finally see the 4-2-3-1) the gaffer goes with will have to dominate the middle of the park.
Upfront, the manager has a decision to make once again between Bobby Firmino and Darwin Nunez. One would think the Uruguayan has shown enough in his two cameos to suggest he’s ready for a full debut.
We thought we’d see him start at Fulham but the manager had different ideas. It’s a decision that didn’t pay off as the Fulham defence looked comfortable in their shape with no one making runs in behind. The Reds didn’t manage a single shot on target till Darwin came off the bench.
He registered the most shots in the game despite playing half an hour, a feat he managed against City as well. All signs point towards the big man getting his first start for the club tomorrow night infront of an adoring Kop.
There’s the option of starting Bobby and Darwin together in a 4-2-3-1, with the presence of a natural number nine offering tactical flexibility. Whether the manager will be willing to effectively sacrifice a midfielder for a forward remains to be seen.
Jürgen Klopp made four substitutions at Fulham last week and will continue to make use of the five subs rule. He campaigned for this change for so long and will utilise every opportunity to rotate and manage the minutes for his squad.
Alisson, Alexander-Arnold, Gomez, Van Dijk, Robertson, Fabinho, Henderson, Keita, Salah, Darwin, Diaz.
Subs: Adrian, Van den Berg, Phillips, Tsimikas, Bajcetic, Milner, Elliott, Firmino, Carvalho.