Jürgen Klopp is expected to have his full compliment of midfielders available for Saturday’s match against Huddersfield Town (barring the long-injured Adam Lallana). Gini Wijnaldum is back in contention after banging up his knee in training just before Liverpool’s 4-1 defeat to Tottenham last weekend. At Wembley, Klopp went with Emre Can, Jordan Henderson and James Milner as his three in the middle but that didn’t exactly pan out in the end.
Not that the game was lost in the midfield. It was lost everywhere. Mostly by Dejan Lovren. But, a monstrosity shared by all, for sure. Just a mind-eroding display to watch.
So, the odds are fairly good then for a dynamic Wijnaldum at-home performance for Anfield. The injury to Gini’s knee has healed or is at least healed enough that pain is no longer a deterrent to playing. Whatever magic therapy and treatment the Dutch midfielder has undergone over the last few days prepared him to return to full team training on Wednesday. And so far, let me tell you, it’s good news.
Milner is the most obvious player to be plucked from the team sheet to make room for Wijnaldum. James has played two matches in a row after having sat for awhile so he was probably due to return to his place on the bench anyway. But I wouldn’t put it passed Klopp to shake up that midfield a little more just to see what else he can get out of his team.
It appears that the manager prefers to use Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain out wide but the Liverpool new boy certainly wouldn’t mind getting his own shot in the center of the park, where he feels he’s in his natural position.
Ox - Hendo - Gini. Ox - Can - Gini. Gini - Can - Hendo. Coutinho - Can - Hendo. Isn’t this fun? Coutinho - Can - Gini. All the possibilities with no real solutions at the minute. But a good pack of lads.
Wijnaldum isn’t the goalscorer from midfield or the one driving at the opposition. But more times than not he’s strong on the ball, has an above average read of the game and has fight in him. He’s a smart player, sometimes too smart when what the game needs is a swashbuckling Emre Can. But Can’s dynamism can often turn out costly for the team when he ends up nowhere or giving the ball away in unfortunate positions. But on the whole I think Can and Wijnaldum work well on the pitch together because of their differences.
Henderson is a different bird, mostly staying reserved, keeping play moving, shuttling and whatnot, occasionally getting forward but usually no further than the top of the box, where he waits to get fed or lunges for scraps.
Coutinho in the midfield three gives the trio more variety but takes away a bit of defensive stability, as Coutinho will be getting forward constantly. Of course, defensive stability is a thing of the past now and over time will be reduced to a simple anecdote we tell our children’s children about the old ways. Defensive what now, gramps?
So, let’s just commit to Gini, for sure. Get a pen. Write it down now. The earlier the better. Wijnaldum’s going to play. Call Huddersfield to let them know. Let’s make it official. I don’t much care who plays with him. In fact, I’d bet there’s not a single person reading this who wouldn’t pay good money to see what Loris Karius could do as a number eight. If not now, Klopp, WHEN.