Xherdan Shaqiri has an opportunity to shine against Brighton – if Jurgen Klopp grants him it.
We’ve barely seen Shaqiri this season. The Swiss has made just three appearances, all as a substitute and all for a combined 14 minutes. That’s not a lot of time to impress.
The latest of those ‘chances’ came back in mid-September thanks to an injury. But really, Shaqiri, a £13m signing, has seen his opportunities severely limited in 2019.
Which is quite strange, really, as he played a key role this time last year. Liverpool had switched to a 4-2-3-1 – primarily to help Fabinho – and Shaqiri played very well as either an attacking midfielder or out on the right.
Klopp went back to his trusted 4-3-3 in January, however. That removed the attacking midfield role from the team, while the right was locked up by Mohamed Salah. In short, the change was overwhelmingly negative for Shaqiri.
Two things now work in his favour, though. Firstly, a crazy month will see Liverpool play 11 times by January 2nd – Shaqiri will surely have to play. Secondly, Fabinho will miss that entire period, creating more opportunities for everyone.
And Shaqiri may get his first one against Brighton on Saturday. The game is sandwiched between a tough game against Napoli last Wednesday and the Merseyside derby next week – Klopp will surely rotate.
Perhaps the best way to use his squad is limit the midfielders he uses – they’ll be stretched over December, now that Fabinho is out. So Klopp can utilise more forwards, including Shaqiri, with a change back to that 4-2-3-1.
But even from the bench, Shaqiri should get more minutes. Brighton presents a wonderful chance to give him just that. Hopefully, he gets his opportunity and can prove as vital as he did a year ago this month.