LEEDS UNITED VS LIVERPOOL: PREDICTED LINEUP
Liverpool take on Leeds United at Elland Road tomorrow night (7pm GMT kickoff). The Reds lie in eighth place whilst their opponents sit precariously close to the drop zone (16th place, just two points clear). Here’s how Jürgen Klopp could line his side up for the encounter.
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The manager in his pre-match press conference confirmed the return of Colombian dazzler Luis Diaz. The winger has been out for the best part of five months and will reasonably need time to get anywhere near his best.
His return should still provide a boost to the side though. Elsewhere, Thiago Alcantara should be fit to make his first start in two months. This comes after he marked his return to action with a typically classy cameo against league leaders Arsenal.
With that said, the team should be a straightforward selection seeing as the manager has had a full week’s worth of training. Alisson will be in goal. The Brazilian had been struggling with a knock in recent days but should be fit to start having proved his fitness by returning to training yesterday.
In defence, it is likely we see the same back four that started against Arsenal. Alexander-Arnold and Robertson will take the fullback positions whilst Konaté and Van Dijk take up the central positions. The 23 year old Frenchman was especially immense last time out.
Ibrahima Konaté for Liverpool vs. Arsenal:
◉ Most duels won 
◉ Most possession won 
◉ Most tackles 
◉ Most interceptions 
In midfield, Fabinho and Henderson remain first choice. There’s been a lot of talk this week (as indeed there are most weeks) on Liverpool’s midfield in the wake of reports that the club have backed out of the race to sign Jude Bellingham.
Most reports go on to say that the club didn’t expect some key personnel to fall so far off their previous levels. As a result, the midfield needs major reconstruction and not just a nip and tuck. This means we could see a number of midfielders pursued in the summer.
Fabinho and Henderson have contributed to this through no fault of their own. They simply haven’t managed to keep going week in, week out, at the intensity required. That all won’t matter tomorrow night though.
They will start together yet again and be partnered by Thiago in what is Klopp’s first choice midfield. The 31 year old Spaniard has missed a chunk of the season yet again. His quality when he is fit has never been in doubt but it must be frustrating trying to build a midfield around him given his injury record.
It will be interesting to see how the dynamic will work out in the middle of the pitch tomorrow night with Thiago in there and Trent drifting into those central areas as well due to the hybrid role he is being asked to play. It worked out well last time out against the Gunners and could be a key feature here.
Curtis Jones will be the one to make way for Thiago. The Scouser has started each of the last two and despite not standing out, has not acquitted himself too badly either. He will have to do with a place on the bench alongside the likes of Elliott and Leeds’ born veteran James Milner.
Upfront, we should see Darwin Nunez restored to the lineup. The manager has opted for Diogo Jota in recent matches but with the Portuguese international still firing blanks (he hasn’t scored in any of his last 32 matches for the club) as he searches for sharpness, he could make way.
Bobby Firmino came off the bench to net a late equaliser against Arsenal and should also be in contention for a start. It’s a toss up between the Brazilian and Cody Gakpo for the ‘false nine’ role, with Mohamed Salah taking up his place on the right wing.
Alisson, Alexander-Arnold, Konaté, Van Dijk, Robertson, Fabinho, Henderson, Thiago, Salah, Firmino, Darwin.
Subs: Kelleher, Gomez, Tsimikas, Milner, Elliott, Jones, Diaz, Jota, Gakpo.
Predicted Leeds XI (4-2-3-1): Meslier, Ayling, Koch, Struijk, Firpo, McKennie, Roca, Sinisterra, Aaronson, Harrison, Bamford.