Liverpool’s lineup against Watford will look quite different to the one that struggled against Manchester United. Injuries, fitness, and form make three changes almost inevitable.
Naby Keita in
Keita is yet to shine in a red shirt but his absence on Sunday did highlight what he brings to Liverpool. Jurgen Klopp went with Fabinho, Gini Wijnaldum and Jordan Henderson as a trio, benching Keita.
The Liverpool Echo quotes Klopp as saying he wanted more physicality at Old Trafford. While he did get that, it was at the expense of a player who could consistently play between the lines.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is still out and Adam Lallana hasn’t been himself for quite some time. That leaves Keita as the sole player capable of delivering that. No, he isn’t performing individually but Keita does improve Liverpool.
Trent Alexander-Arnold is back
The young right-back has returned from injury and should take James Milner’s place.
Klopp says, according to the Echo, that he just didn’t want Alexander-Arnold to play three games in a week so soon after the injury.
Milner’s struggles, however, will surely see him drop out of Liverpool’s lineup for the trip to Watford in favour of Klopp’s first-choice.
Replacing Roberto Firmino
Firmino went off injured at Old Trafford and, even more worrisome, he left the stadium on crutches. Even if he somehow recovers for Wednesday’s game, Klopp would surely leave him out as a precaution.
So how do you replace him? There are two choices, really. First, Mo Salah can move to striker and Xherdan Shaqiri takes up a place on the right. It’s the obvious choice, considering the form of everyone involved.
Salah is far more direct than Firmino, however, and a switch back to 4-2-3-1 may be necessary for it to work. Exactly who would sit behind him isn’t clear, however. The Brazilian has filled that role every time.
The other two options are either Daniel Sturridge or Divock Origi as direct replacements. Neither have been anything like consistent this season, though.
It’s also worth considering that if Firmino is out of the derby – and he likely will be, by the look of things – then Klopp may want a game to prepare for it.
It’s unlikely that Sturridge or Origi will be the preferred choice, and Liverpool’s lineup against Watford may reflect the Everton game as a result.
Liverpool’s predicted lineup v Watford
Alexander-Arnold – Matip – Van Dijk – Robertson
Wijnaldum – Fabinho – Keita
Shaqiri – Salah – Mane