Michael Baddeley takes a look at how Klopp can address his injury problems ahead of a clash with Manchester United.
We were so close to finally getting through an international break without any injuries. But what a shock, the inevitable happened and Gini Wijnaldum picked up a hamstring strain.
The Dutchman limped off after 63 minutes of Holland’s World Cup qualifier against France and despite the manager being informed at half time that Gini couldn’t carry on, he still played him in the second half and the injury was made a lot worse than it could have been. Is it any shock that manager happens to be Danny Blind, father of United player Daley Blind?
Due to the screwup, it seems all but certain that Gini will miss the game against our arch rivals from down East Lancashire road. It will undoubtedly annoy Klopp but it isn’t the end of the world as the beast himself Emre Can will be able to replace the Dutchman.
Add that to Lallana possibly being injured could really disturb the midfield and also the rest of the team. There’s a possibility he could still make the game and rumours of him being on course to win the race against fitness have been doing the rounds on social media yesterday morning.
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The Englishman has been a part of everything positive about Liverpool this season and if he were to miss out it would be a blow to Klopp’s plans.
Adam Lallana is on course to win his fitness race for Monday nights match against Man Utd.
— Joseph Musker (@JosephMusker) October 12, 2016
Rumours circulating that Lallana should be fit for the United game.
— LFC Fans Corner (@LFCFansCorner) October 12, 2016
There were also worries over Lovren and Clyne’s fitness, but the two seem to have made a full recovery and will both feature in the Monday night game.
With all this being said, I thought it would be good to look at how Klopp could line up if we were to miss both of our midfielders.
Can and Sturridge in
There are two ways this could work. For me, the strongest option would be to stick with the 4-3-2-1/4-3-3 with Emre Can in the deep-lying playmaker role that we have seen Gini play in, utilise Coutinho in the central role Lallana has taken up this season and stick Studge up top.
Alternatively, we could also see the return of the 4-2-3-1 that we saw so often last season. One of Can or Hendo holding with the other being that box-to-box player. Mané, Coutinho and Firmino being the three in behind Studge up top.
However, I think the 4-3-2-1 with a ‘False 9′ is now Klopp’s favoured system and is no doubt our strongest option.
Despite taking a lot of grief from the press over his performance for England vs Slovenia, Hendo has matured so much this season and taking on that no. 6 role has been the making of him this season. He can play the box-to-box role well, but Hendo as the anchor allows Can to have more freedom and express himself a little bit more.
Coutinho in a midfield three
A few weeks ago, I wrote about how Coutinho could fit into the side and one of the options was possibly dropping into a midfield three. I did brush it off as a big no-no, saying how Klopp prefers him on the left. But now it looks like I could possibly be wrong.
We’ve seen Coutinho put in many magical performances in a central role in the past and he even flourished when in this position only a couple weeks ago at the Liberty Stadium. Then there’s Mané, Firmino and Studge. We all saw what they did together when they faced Leicester, so what’s not to say they could replicate that against the Mancs?
I’m not going to lie either, the prospect of Coutinho, Firmino, Mané and Sturridge all on the same pitch is mouth-watering. Many fans have craved the possibility of the quartet lining up together, myself included – and who can blame them? The suave of all four as individuals is breathtaking, so just imagine them all together!
Although I do have to admit, in a game like this you don’t want to be too gung-ho and playing all four could be just that. Mourinho will send his team out to park the bus then hit us on the break and this lineup might not offer enough defensive coverage needed to cope with that.
There’s no doubt that Can would 110% fill the void left by Gini. He’d thrive there if given the chance so there’s no worrying whether or not he would perform.. I’m not saying Gini isn’t good enough because he is. In fact, he’s put in top performances so far that have somehow gone under the radar. But this is Can’s chance to shine. The one injury that could weaken the team is Lallana being injured.
Personally, I’d prefer Lallana to play over Sturridge. On current form, he is the superior player and as I said earlier he’s been a part of everything good about Liverpool so far this season. The team would benefit much more from Lallana being on the pitch due to him fitting into the whole gegenpressing system.
The natural-finisher would fit into the side and it’d still be a top side, there’s no doubting that. But like I said, Lallana would improve the team much more than Sturridge would.
At the end of the day, it’s down to Jurgen Klopp. Let’s let the boss-man worry about this, enjoy whatever team he sends out and take the one positive from all of this. When you look at the bigger picture it’s clear to see that Liverpool finally has quality in depth, something we haven’t had for years.
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