Michael Mongie assesses whether or not Adam Lallana or Georginio Wijnaldum will be fit enough to feature fully tonight.
This evening’s Premier League clash with Crystal Palace is more important than most realise. Depending on how Arsenal and Manchester City fare in their respective fixtures, the London showdown offers Liverpool the opportunity to become the table toppers for the first time this season.
Even if Arsenal and City win, Liverpool can go top on goal difference, granted the Reds will need to absolutely thump Crystal Palace to do so.
Key to the Reds’ meteoric start to the season has been the fitness of several key players. Jurgen Klopp has clearly identified his ideal starting lineup and is looking to start his preferred team in each Premier League game regardless of the stature of the opponent.
This approach is similar to that which saw Claudio Ranieri tinker his way to the title last season. The Foxes featured almost identical lineups each week in a bid to retain a chemistry which allowed them to blow past unexpecting sides.
Very surprisingly, two of the most important players in Klopp’s team at the moment are Adam Lallana and Georginio Wijnaldum. The former suffered a difficult start to life on Merseyside as he struggled to replicate his wondrous form that earned him the move from Southampton to Liverpool.
On the other hand, Gini Wijnaldum has made one of the most impressive starts to a Liverpool career in recent years. His debut against Arsenal surprised many as his combination of aggressive tackling and composed ball work kept the Gunners’ midfield at bay – he even assisted Lallana’s goal.
Both Lallana and Wijnaldum have had injury issues in the last few weeks and there are still a few question marks as to whether or not they can compete in Klopp’s intensive tactical unit without aggravating any underlying issues.
When the news broke that Wijnaldum had picked up an injury on international duty, it was initially believed that he had a hamstring problem but, after scans, it turned out that he was suffering from a hip complaint that was affecting his hamstring and that’s why it appeared as though he’d damaged his muscle.
After playing the full 90 minutes against Tottenham in the EFL Cup midweek, Wijnaldum will probably feature tonight against Palace but whether or not he will be withdrawn towards the end for Emre Can in what will be a more intense affair is yet to be determined. Spurs fielded a largely second-string side and the intensity wasn’t on par with a Premier League encounter.
Adam Lallana was rested for the cup tie and the midfielder should be raring to go when the Reds arrive at Selhurst Park. Liverpool needs their two most energetic midfielders tonight to assist in pressing an outfit which will be more than ready for Klopp’s tactics.
Tonight is going to be a huge game and I am confident that Lallana and Wijnaldum have recovered sufficiently to get through at least 75 minutes of an intense encounter in London. The rewards are potentially glorious and I am sure that both players will be desperate to be involved.
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