Liverpool are back in action on Tuesday night when they host Ajax Amsterdam. The postponement of this weekend’s round of league fixtures has offered the Reds a chance to right that horrendous showing in Naples last week. Here’s a preview of the game.

It was a truly shocking display last time out, with Napoli cutting through Jürgen Klopp’s side at will on their way to a comfortable 4-1 victory. The endemic slow start to this campaign hit a new low, with the manager at a loss to explain his side’s performance.

He spoke of a need to reinvent his side, with this being the eighth consecutive game the Reds have been outran by the opposition this season. There’s a distinct lack of energy throughout the team, with several stars woefully out of form.

There’s clearly a hangover from the marathon campaign of last season which saw an unprecedented quadruple charge go down to the wire. The manager has so far kept the same approach and formation, to little success.

Talk of reinvention was refreshing to hear, and the hope is that the postponement has allowed time on the training field to fine-tune a fresh approach. It feels like an adaptation is required, at least until the Reds find their way again.

The return of Thiago Alcantara should certainly help step up the quality in the much maligned midfield department. The Spanish international was a step above anything in red when he came on for what was his return from a month long layoff.

Deadline day signing Arthur Melo made his debut for the club in Naples as well, coming on for the final ten or so minutes. The Brazilian would have benefited from that cameo and the subsequent training sessions.

Between him and Thiago, the manager can find a way through this muddled mess of a start to the campaign. The task at hand on Tuesday is a tough one. Ajax are in a rich vein of form at the minute and top the group after the 4-0 thrashing of Rangers.

Alfred Schreuder’s start to life in Amsterdam has been terrific. He has overcome this summer’s upheaval (and a Super Cup final defeat to PSV in his first game in charge) to guide the Dutch champions to victory in each of their first six Eredevisie fixtures.

The start to the Champions League campaign sent out a message as well. They overpowered and outclassed Rangers at the Johan Cruijff Arena, with no side registering a bigger margin of victory in the opening round of the Champions League, Europa or Conference League.

The Dutch giants will give Jürgen Klopp’s side a thorough examination. They will also seek a bit of revenge for their two 1-0 defeats to the Reds in the 2019/20 campaign when the two sides were last drawn together.

The pandemic affected ties failed to capture the imagination due to the lack of fans. We can expect it to sizzle this time around with a packed stadium and both sides playing an expansive brand of football.

The Reds need to quickly arrest this slide or they could be staring at an uphill battle to qualify for the knockout stages of Europe’s premium competition. Ajax have won all seven of their league and Champions League fixtures this season and will be confident of causing an upset.

Team News

It’s pretty much the same squad available to the manager from last week’s trip to Italy, with the possible exception of Fabio Carvalho returning to fitness. The 20 year old suffered a dead leg in the Merseyside derby.

Thiago, Jota and Arthur have gotten minutes and further training sessions in their legs as they seek to hit full fitness and sharpness. They should all be in contention for a start. Kelleher, Ramsay, Konaté, Henderson, Keita, Jones and Oxlade-Chamberlain remain out.

For Ajax, it’s a near enough full strength squad. Only backup left back Owen Wijndal is a doubt for the trip after missing each of the last four games.

Key Players

Luis Diaz

The Colombian has been fighting a losing battle on his own upfront for most of this season. He’s the side’s topscorer so far with 4 goals, and netted a beauty in Naples. His effort and attitude is an example to his colleagues.

Ajax front three

Dusan Tadic, Mohamed Kudus and Steven Bergwijn form Ajax’s latest trio upfront, with all three players gelling well together in recent weeks. Kudus has scored in each of his last three appearances (4 goals, 1 assist) as he adapts to a new false nine role.

Tadic is the veteran of the front three. He’s yet to score this season but has provided five assists so far (including 3 in his last game), whilst Bergwijn adds that sprinkling of stardust. The winger has netted 8 goals in his 8 appearances for Ajax since his summer switch from Spurs.

Thiago Alcantara

As stated, the Spanish technician’s return is crucial. In his half hour cameo last week, he won more tackles (4 – most in the game) and more duels (7) than the starting midfield trio combined.

The manager noted how the side didn’t counter press well enough till the Spaniard’s introduction. He offers so much to this side on and off the ball. He will likely start on Tuesday night and look to guide the Reds to victory.



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