Liverpool are approaching full strength… but what is Jurgen Klopp’s strongest side?

0

It is said to be ‘a nice dilemma’, something every manager should relish.

But with Liverpool’s squad becoming stronger by the week, Jurgen Klopp will soon be putting that theory to the test.

Sadio Mane returned ahead of schedule; Philippe Coutinho should feature for Brazil against England at Wembley on Tuesday; Adam Lallana is anticipated to resume full training this week, taking part in a behind-closed-doors friendly to boot.

When all three return, some big decisions have to be made by the German boss.

Do the front three of Mane, Roberto Firmino and Mo Salah retain their places?

Where does Coutinho fit in?

Can he function in the same midfield as Lallana, or is that far too attacking?

The trio’s return to full fitness – Mane played at West Ham, only because of his freak-like healing powers – means only Nathaniel Clyne will be an absentee from the first-team squad.

Jordan Henderson withdrew from the England squad, but he is expected to return over the next week or so.

This raises the key question: what is Liverpool’s strongest 11?

‘Strongest’ is an subjective term, of course. Different opponents call for different set-ups. Klopp himself showed that with a switch in system for the trip to the London Stadium last weekend.

So, let us consider this scenario. Liverpool play in the Champions League final tomorrow against a well-matched team. Every player, including Clyne, is fully fit.

What team do you pick?

Kristian Walsh’s selection…

That was harder than I expected.

Simon Mignolet gets the nod in goal simply because he remains Liverpool’s no.1.

I was an advocate of Nathaniel Clyne playing fewer minutes this season but it’s impossible not to notice how he’s been missed – in the bigger games in particular.

Despite that, Joe Gomez deserves to keep his place and he is probably a better bet than Dejan Lovren – though those who would rather see Gomez with a run of games there first also raise a valid point.

Alberto Moreno has been Liverpool’s best defender and remains at left back.

Here’s where it gets complicated.

Leaving Adam Lallana out is the hardest decision of all. Perhaps it’s recency bias, given he has not played for Liverpool this season. His importance to Liverpool’s press is paramount and he is a big part of what the Reds do well.

But can he and Coutinho co-exist as a midfield two? Manchester City manage it with Kevin de Bruyne and David Silva, but Fernandinho sits behind. Emre Can is closest to that role, but if he replaces Jordan Henderson, who captains the side?

That is not to ignore how important Henderson also is in this set-up.

At least the front three is easy to decide upon.

Easier than the bench, at least. Trent Alexander-Arnold misses out entirely on the basis Gomez can move to right back, with both Dejan Lovren and James Milner options defensively too. Ben Woodburn and Dominic Solanke also have to wait their turn.

Klopp’s task is an unenviable one.

Liverpool (4-3-3): Mignolet; Clyne, Gomez, Matip, Moreno; Henderson, Can, Coutinho; Mane, Salah, Firmino

Subs: Karius, Lovren, Milner, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Wijnaldum, Lallana, Sturridge

That was my team, but what is yours? Choose using this widget, and feel free to explain why in the comments below.

Share.

Leave A Reply