NAPOLI VS LIVERPOOL: PREDICTED LINEUP
Liverpool return to Champions League action tonight, hoping to start another exciting run in Europe. Here’s how we expect Jürgen Klopp to line his side up for the encounter against Napoli.
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Jürgen Klopp has named a 21 man squad for the trip, with Thiago Alcantara included after returning to full fitness. Fabio Carvalho and Curtis Jones miss out however, as they continue to struggle with knocks.
LFC Travelling squad:
GK – Alisson, Adrian, Davies
DEF – Gomez, Alexander-Arnold, Phillips, Van Dijk, Matip, Robertson, Tsimikas
MID – Milner, Thiago, Elliott, Fabinho, Arthur, Bajcetic
ATT – Firmino, Salah, Jota, Diaz, Nunez.
It’s a strong enough squad for the task at hand but the Reds are still struggling to find their best form. With the games coming thick and fast, we can expect the manager to make a few changes where possible.
In goal will be Alisson Becker. The Brazilian was in inspired form against Everton, earning himself a second clean sheet of the season. He will come under even more pressure tonight.
In defence, we can expect one or two changes. Andy Robertson was limited to a half hour cameo on Saturday and should come back into the XI ahead of Tsimikas. Joel Matip also made a brief appearance against Everton and could be handed a start.
Gomez has been impressive since returning to the side but will need to be carefully managed having started each of the last four. Wolves await on Saturday as well, there’s enough games to go around.
Van Dijk and Alexander-Arnold will complete the backline. The defence will have to be on it tonight as Napoli are a dangerous side. The likes of Zielinksi, Politano, Osimhen and Kvaratskhelia will pose a threat.
In midfield, the manager once again has a puzzle to solve. Thiago is back fit after a hamstring injury that kept him out for a month, but is unlikely to be thrown straight back in. A cameo off the bench makes more sense.
The manager also hinted in his pre-match press conference that Arthur needs careful managing. The Brazilian wasn’t training with Juventus at all prior to his move but looks set for his debut. Whether that comes from the start or off the bench remains to be seen.
Klopp: “Now Arthur needs just football now and training especially, that’s how it is. He wasn’t in team training for a while at Juve and so he needs proper team training and that’s what we’re doing. Can he play minutes? Yes. Should he play a full game? No.”
That leaves James Milner, Harvey Elliott and Fabinho. That trio could well start together, with Thiago and Arthur coming on as the game wears on. Napoli have technical and mobile operators in the form of Lobotka, Anguissa and Zielinski patrolling their midfield.
Ideally, Arthur Melo will start and get about an hour under his belt. He was signed to help aid the injury woes in midfield and will need to be brought up to speed swiftly. He will offer greater control in the middle of the pitch against Napoli’s trio.
Upfront, the manager has a healthy set of options. He can take advantage of that to freshen up the attack. Luis Diaz could be handed a breather, with Darwin Nunez an option on the left wing. Diogo Jota is another option after making his return over the weekend.
Darwin played on the left wing in almost every single Champions League game for Benfica last season (including both fixtures against Liverpool). He will offer a threat in behind and play closer to goal (a criticism that has been levelled at Diaz recently).
Jota is unlikely to be handed a start having played just 10 minutes on his return. Mohamed Salah meanwhile continues to work through his own struggles. He’s creating a lot more but isn’t getting on the end of enough chances.
Over the years he’s shown he can play himself into form and can be expected to start. Roberto Firmino is the most in form attacker at the minute and deserves to start. He will of course seek to drop deep to create space for Darwin and Mo to attack.
Alisson, Alexander-Arnold, Matip, Van Dijk, Robertson, Fabinho, Elliott, Arthur, Salah, Firmino, Darwin.
Subs: Adrian, Davies, Phillips, Gomez, Tsimikas, Bajcetic, Milner, Thiago, Jota, Diaz.