The biggest challenge facing Jurgen Klopp this season is in his midfield and finding the correct combinations.
We know that Liverpool will line up with a trio in the middle. Exactly how it looks, however, will depend on several factors.
Klopp has the luxury of being able to change the shape depending on the plan. Want to keep things tight and focused? Then use a holding midfielder with two players in front. Want to play with more upfront? Play two ‘sitting’ with one behind the striker.
The real challenge for Klopp is finding the right combination of players for the midfield.
He has a wealth of options. There’s Fabinho, who is used to playing in a two but has developed into a world-class holding midfielder. Jordan Henderson, James Milner, and Gini Wijnaldum can all play a variety of roles, slotting in wherever needed.
Then there’s Naby Keita. He’s comfortable in a two, can play wide left midfield in a 4-2-3-1 and on the left in a three. It makes him a unique player in the squad, given his ability on the ball, too.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Adam Lallana are able to play in the forward line, as well as in midfield threes. Those two are very attacking, however, in ways that none of the other midfield options are. There’s even been some talk from Klopp that Lallana could play a holding role – but that could go either way.
Xherdan Shaqiri and Roberto Firmino offer something different, too. Both will play as forwards but can, if needed, play that position behind the striker.
Given the front-three being so defined and Liverpool’s defence being consistent, the midfield is the only area offering questions.
How Klopp manages his midfield options will define games and, quite possibly, the entire season. He has brilliant, versatile options that cover everything he could need.
It’s just a question of fitting it all together.