Jurgen Klopp has to make a difficult choice in midfield but the next week makes things much easier.
We’ve talked about Klopp’s choice before. Essentially, he needs to decide who plays against Atletico Madrid next month between two players worth a combined £87.97m.
The decision comes about after the Reds struggled to create against Atletico in Madrid. The game finished 1-0 to the hosts and Liverpool really didn’t make much happen.
So now that they absolutely need to score multiple goals in the second leg, they’ll add more attacking impetus. Jordan Henderson is no longer definitely fit for the game, either, making a midfield change a near certainty.
Both Keita and Oxlade-Chamberlain offer something different. Keita is more creative but Oxlade-Chamberlain is more driven, able to create havoc through running and movement, rather than passing.
There’s no easy choice, basically. It’ll depend on who Klopp sees as the better fit and there are three games between now and then to figure it out.
And fortunately, that makes things easier.
Because all three games offer something a little different but with pressure attached. There is the away game against Watford this weekend, for instance.
Liverpool will need to grind out another win against a team with lots to lose. It’ll be a fight and seeing who has that in them is important.
Then there’s Chelsea on Tuesday. That’s an FA Cup game and a very difficult one. It’s perhaps the game most like the Atletico return but we also have no idea what team Klopp will put out. Will it even be the first team? Fortunately, whoever plays will get a test and Klopp will learn from it.
Then Liverpool play Bournemouth at home ahead of Atletico. That’s a game where the Reds need to win in routine fashion with plenty of expectation. It’ll perhaps be the best chance for either player to show what they offer in attack.
With all three games played in eight days, both Oxlade-Chamberlain and Keita will get their chance. And by the end of it, Klopp’s midfield choice should be clear.