Joe Gomez and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain are set to return while Dejan Lovren is unavailable for Liverpool’s Premier League tie against Watford on Saturday.
It’s top versus bottom to kick off Gameweek 17 of the Premier League as Liverpool play hosts to Watford at Anfield on Saturday’s lunch-time kick-off. And, Jurgen Klopp is grappling with serious issues in defence ahead of his side’s latest fixture.
Dejan Lovren has picked up a fresh injury, having hobbled off midway through the Champions League meeting with Red Bull Salzburg earlier this week. During his pre-match press conference, Klopp was asked to comment on the extent of Lovren’s injury, and the Liverpool boss also talked of his predicament after being left with just two senior centre-backs at his disposal.
“He [Lovren] is out, muscle this time – more serious than last time. We don’t have a timeframe. It’s a concern, how you can imagine. It’s not the first time we are in a situation like this; last year, one game Fabinho played at centre-half, unfortunately he is out as well. It’s not too cool.”
The situation Klopp is alluding to is the fact that Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez are the only recognised central disposal available to him. Gomez and van Dijk are set to start at the heart of the Liverpool defence against Watford, but Klopp spoke about how he intends to manage the duo.
“In the moment we have two – we should take care of them, pack them in cotton wool and ask them what they want to do in training, ‘Are you ready or not?’ Apart from that, we have to be creative; we have the kids, of course, with Ki-Jana [Hoever] and Sepp [van den Berg].”
“We have defensive-minded midfielders, there are different systems where you can use different kind of defenders as well. That’s how it is. In the moment, I have a lot of ideas but I hope for most of them I never have to use them, to be honest.”
Apart from Gomez and van Dijk, Klopp’s defensive selection in general is restricted, with Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andrew Robertson the only full-backs at his disposal. The duo should continue as the full-back pairing, with Alisson Becker taking his place in goal.
In midfield, Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson is likely to continue at the base of the midfield in the continued absence of Fabinho. Naby Keita ought to hold on to his spot after impressing for a second successive game this week, but there should be one change in the middle of the park, with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain replacing Georginio Wijnaldum.
Upfront, there could be an inclination towards resting one or more of the regulars. However, Sadio Mane, Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino should form Liverpool’s three-pronged attack against Watford, with any rotation happening at next week’s Club World Cup.
Predicted Liverpool XI: Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Gomez, van Dijk, Robertson; Keita, Henderson, Oxlade-Chamberlain; Salah, Firmino, Mane