Liverpool and Manchester City meet at Wembley this Sunday in the Community Shield, the official curtain-raiser to the English football season.
With the Reds having lost three of their seven pre-season fixtures, fans are not completely confident that Jurgen Klopp’s side will have enough about them to put it up to City at Wembley.
Pep Guardiola’s team had a relatively quiet summer, playing just four senior friendlies including their participation in the Premier League Asia Trophy.
Liverpool’s lack of activity in the transfer market surprised many after the club was expected to try and strengthen the first-team on the back of the fantastic Champions League triumph which brought last season to a close
However, Klopp has been consistent in his view that players who missed much or all of last season through injury will be like new seasons now that they are back fit and ready to go.
Such names include Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Joe Gomez and Naby Keita. Those three all have the potential to be regular first-team starters if they can stay injury-free in 2019/20.
On to Sunday’s game…
Alisson should start in goals for the Reds. The Brazilian has only played one pre-season fixture for Liverpool – last week’s 3-1 win over Lyon. He committed a calamitous error to give Lyon a penalty in the first three minutes of the game on Wednesday. Last season’s Premier League Golden Glove winner needs as many minutes as possible to get back to the level we know he’s capable of before the league starts next Friday.
At the back, Klopp will probably go full strength so Joel Matip will keep his place, for now. Trent Alexander-Arnold should be on the right with Andy Robertson on the opposite flank. Virgil van Dijk will partner Matip in the middle.
Liverpool currently have 8 midfielders to choose from. Picking Klopp’s trio for Sunday or, indeed, any game this season, will be a task in itself.
Against City, Klopp will probably opt for the solidity of a midfield consisting of Fabinho, Jordan Henderson and James Milner.
In the forward line, Mohamed Salah will most likely start on the right with Divock Origi in the central role while Harry Wilson could play just behind Origi.
Sadio Mané is only due back at Melwood on Monday after his prolonged appearance at the AFCON with Senegal.
Roberto Firmino started against Lyon but only played the first 30 minutes so its unlikely Klopp feels he’s ready to start on Sunday. Liverpool’s number 9 will most likely play at least 30 minutes again but this time as a second-half substitute.
Liverpool’s predicted lineup (4-3-3) Vs Manchester City: Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Matip, Van Dijk, Robertson; Fabinho, Henderson(c), Milner; Salah, Origi, Wilson