Knocked out of the Carabao Cup at the King Power Stadium on Tuesday and back again tomorrow in Premier League action. For Jürgen Klopp and Liverpool, this week is all about taking on Leicester City on their home patch; however, it is also a week where questions have been asked about progress under the manager. In September. Is this really a crisis?
Whatever concerns and problems there are, a third Premier League victory of the season will quell such talk ahead of a trip to Russia to face Spartak Moscow on Tuesday. A more immediate concern is the state of the defensive options available to Klopp with Nathaniel Clyne likely to be out injured for the rest year, the increasing fragility of the unconvincing Dejan Lovren, and the hamstring problem that threatens to rule Joël Matip out of tomorrow’s game.
Lovren may be unconvincing but is essential given that Ragnar Klavan is the next available option. Joe Gomez rotates with Trent Alexander-Arnold at right back in the absence of Clyne and probably shouldn’t be shifted around so much as a young defender. This was entirely self-inflicted by a stubborn obsession with Virgil van Dijk so neither excuses nor sympathy apply here.
For Liverpool (4-3-3):
Mignolet; Gomez, Matip, Klavan, Moreno; Wijnaldum, Can, Coutinho; Salah, Sturridge, Firmino
Sadio Mané has one more match of his domestic suspension to serve but should return to the starting line up against Spartak and Newcastle next week. Dejan Lovren is entering expensive crisps territory that Jordan Henderson and Daniel Sturridge will be able to tell him all about. Lovren’s back problem will give Ragnar Klavan another chance to show what he can or cannot do. Henderson’s form has been ghastly this season, and the captain also played on Tuesday. He’ll probably start, but it is hard to see Henderson deserving a regular spot in the team with the way he is playing.
Roberto Firmino on the left may help Liverpool defensively, but can he repeat the star performance he made against Leicester from the same position last season? Another option is to push Coutinho into the front three with Henderson taking a spot in midfield. That would keep Firmino central but remove Sturridge from the starting picture. Either Andrew Robertson and Alberto Moreno could start depending on tactics and performances in training.
Jamie Vardy (fit from a groin injury to play tomorrow), Riyad Mahrez, Mark Albrighton, Harry Maguire, Christian Fuchs, and the Son of Schmeichel should all return after missing the midweek victory against Merseyside’s finest. Craig Shakespeare might restore Shinji Okazaki—who hasn’t started the last two league games—to the starting lineup at the expense of Kelechi Iheanacho. Iheanacho is a talent and finally started a first league game in a Leicester shirt against Huddersfield, but Shakespeare can count on the established understanding between Vardy and Okazaki to trouble a makeshift Liverpool defence.
Kickoff is set for 5.30PM BST/12.3PM EST tomorrow on BT Sport 1 in the UK and NBC in the US. Elsewhere, Optus Sport in Australia, Sportsnet in Canada, Star Sports Select 1 in India, SuperSport3 Africa in Kenya, Astro SuperSport 3 in Malaysia, SuperSport 3 Nigeria in Nigeria, 102 (HD) mio Stadium in Singapore, and SuperSport 3 in South Africa are carrying the match. BBC Radio 5 Live and LFCTV Go provide online options to follow the game. You can find full listings at LivesoccerTV.
We'll be keeping you updated with all the buildup to the game, including team news as it's released, our live matchday thread and post-match recaps from The Liverpool Offside staff. If you want to join the discussion, sign up for an SB Nation account to have your say on all the action as it happens.