Sanjay Nair predicts Liverpool’s potential starting lineup for the Reds’ Carabao Cup fixture against Chelsea at Anfield on Wednesday evening.
An unprecedented and historic start to the season and Liverpool are at the top of both their Premier League and Champions League groups. Even in such a short span of time, we have seen both the sublime and the gritty from the Reds that has everyone buzzing.
Next up are back-to-back matches against Les Bleus from London, who incidentally have also started extremely well considering they have a new manager and all the drama surrounding potential departures and general displeasure towards the end of last season.
Although Maurizio Sarri is yet to settle on his preferred starting line-up, Chelsea have bolted out of the blocks and were leading the Premier League table up until The Hammers held them to a derby stalemate on Sunday.
Although the Premier League is the more important of the two, the Carabao Cup will definitely present a dilemma for both Jürgen Klopp and Maurizio Sarri as there will be the ‘momentum’ factor to be considered, what with the weekend’s Premier League tie between the two to immediately follow this match.
However, there is also a definite need for resting some players ahead of the battles ahead as well as keeping the overall balance of the side in mind.
With that in mind, we could see the return of Simon Mignolet in goal to provide him with some much-needed game time. With van Dijk injured and Gomez likely to be rested ahead of Sunday, Joel Matip, who scored against the Saints, is likely to have a new partner in the highly rated Nathaniel Phillips.
Nathaniel Clyne and Alberto Moreno should complete the defensive setup on the right and left flank respectively.
A much-awaited start for Fabinho is long overdue and, along with Naby Keïta and Jordan Henderson, will be expected to provide the much-needed beef and also maintain the overall balance in the setup – at least to start with.
After a first-half performance against Southampton that saw him provide 2 assists, Xherdan Shaqiri is a must-start in this fixture and will surely create as much havoc against a Chelsea side who are also sure to rest a few regulars.
Sadio Mané and Daniel Sturridge, who is rested and raring to go after his impressive Champions League performance, would be expected to complete a considerably changed yet strong Liverpool team.
Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah may not be completely rested and might feature on a strong bench that could also see the return of Dejan Lovren at some point in the match.
With the likes of Adam Lallana and Dominic Solanke yet to return to full fitness, Klopp might still rely on James Milner or Gini Wijnaldum or perhaps a run-in for young Curtis Jones might also be appropriate.
All-in-all, there is still a fair amount of quality in both teams to produce a nail-biting contest.