Michael Mongie explains who he would like to see selected to start against West Ham in the Reds’ Premier League opener at Anfield.
Although the World Cup in Russia helped supporters through a summer where football would normally be scarce, it’s still been too long since there was regular footy to watch on television.
The Premier League is back though and I couldn’t be happier about it – even though we had to sit through 90 minutes of Manchester United’s dull football on Friday as Jose Mourinho’s side scraped through to a 2-1 win over Leicester City.
With Liverpool set to take on West Ham later today, I’m going to look at how I would prefer the Reds to line up at Anfield.
I think this is probably one of the easiest shouts for Klopp this weekend. Signed for £65m last month, the Brazilian has come in to fortify a position that has long since been problematic for the Reds.
Loris Karius’ poor display will have certainly factored in the club’s decision to break a world record to sign Alisson and he is nailed on to start today. His distribution and composure will help the back four keep their cool when faced up by an improved Hammers forward line.
While I would always prefer Trent Alexander-Arnold to start at right back, the form and fitness of Nathaniel Clyne cannot be ignored and he should start. The Englishman has been in good knick since reporting for pre-season and will need to be on his toes to ensure he starts consistently this term.
As far as the right centre back slot is concerned, it’s a mystery who will start there with Joe Gomez’ injury status under scrutiny. Nat Philipps is reportedly on standby as kickoff creeps nearer.
With Dejan Lovren unavailable due to stomach muscle issues and Jöel Matip also likely to be out of contention to start, it would be best if Gomez was fit to play and would be the best option to partner Virgil van Dijk.
Left back is another position that could throw up a surprise inclusion after a good pre-season from Alberto Moreno. The Spaniard could be selected to play ahead of Robertson but I expect the Scotsman’s quality will win through and see him given the nod.
While he has been said to be lacking fitness after being ill this week, I expect that Fabinho will make his competitive debut for the Reds today and begin to prove to his detractors that he is the right man to anchor Klopp’s midfield.
If he is unavailable, James Milner could start in one of the more advanced midfield roles and Georginio Wijnaldum could be deployed as a no.6 with Naby Keïta likely to play as an 8 where his talents would be utilised best.
My first choice midfield three for the opening game would be Fabinho, Gini and Keïta.
As ever, this front three picks itself and despite how impressive Daniel Sturridge and Xherdan Shaqiri were in pre-season, I would be very surprised if Firmino, Salah and Mané didn’t start.
The trio scored just over 90 goals last season and if they can avoid major injuries, there’s no reason they can’t improve on that again with a much improved supporting cast behind them.
XI to face West Ham: Alisson, Clyne, Gomez, van Dijk, Robertson, Gini, Milner, Keïta, Salah, Firmino, Mané.