Dave Davis discusses the possible permutations for Jürgen Klopp in midfield now that Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has been ruled out for the rest of the season.
Despite coming away with a three-goal advantage from Tuesday’s Champions League semi-final first leg, there were a few dampeners on celebrations at the final whistle.
Both news regarding the seriously injured fan and conceding two away goals definitely took the shine off what was otherwise a good result. The injury to Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain made many Reds start thinking about the future midfield permutations down the line as we’re at the business end of the season.
Jürgen Klopp’s comments that Liverpool ‘would need to be creative’ will divide opinion on its meaning, but there aren’t too many options to consider. The blow to the Ox comes on top of Emre Can also being ruled out for the season and the continuation of Adam Lallana’s injury nightmare.
Liverpool have gone from a team with a carefully planned rotation policy to seemingly short of options. All possibilities have become credible and will be carefully considered behind closed doors at Melwood.
The U23s could well see their numbers depleted as the manager has proven he has no qualms about promoting youth. Conor Masterson may find his chances limited with Gomez, Clyne and Klavan returning, but there may be chances for those that can play in the middle.
Rafa Camacho and Curtis Jones were called up previously for the Merseyside Derby and the clamour for Ben Woodburn to be given a chance may well come to fruition. James Milner, Georginio Wijnaldum and Jordan Henderson can’t be asked to play every minute at the required intensity.
Formation-wise, it’s been clear that Klopp does favour a 4-3-3 where possible, yet has opted to change when required. The 3-5-2 formation deployed in the Derby could well be utilised due to the available alternatives. Gomez and Klavan could easily come into a back three, whilst Moreno and Clyne provide alternatives in the wide positions.
With Solanke and Ings also available, Klopp would have the option to rest a few of his front three and one of his middle trio. That’s before any promotion from the Academy.
With every game being a crunch tie, there’s always the possibility of tried and tested adjusting positions without any major formation changes. Trent Alexander-Arnold could potentially play in a midfield position as he has for academy teams, due to players returning from injury.
There’s been a clamour at times for Roberto Firmino to drop deeper too, but having notched 27 goals and 16 assists it seems nonsensical to adjust the position of such a crucial player.
With Liverpool seemingly unable to recall Marko Grujic, a personnel addition looks the least likely of all the options and the manager won’t be relying on the return of any players currently unavailable.
There are some important midfield decisions to be made in the coming weeks. Let’s pray for everyone’s sakes that Jürgen Klopp gets them right.