Here are three things Jurgen Klopp must consider before the Premier League opener in two weeks. The Liverpool boss has a lot on his plate.
Liverpool will kick off the defence of their Premier League title by hosting Leeds United on September 12th. Klopp has just under two weeks to make some tough choices, then.
The Reds’ poor performance in the Community Shield has mixed things up and so here are three things Klopp will have to consider.
The right-back question
Neco Williams started at Wembley but Trent Alexander-Arnold will be over his injury by the time Leeds arrive at Anfield. The question, then, is whether the Scouser is ready to play.
Liverpool have played two friendlies and the Community Shield as a pre-season, with no more scheduled warm-up games. That means Alexander-Arnold can’t possibly be match-fit on September 12th, given he didn’t play any. Williams, on the other hand, has played in all three.
But Williams didn’t look entirely comfortable against Arsenal. It’ll put doubt into Klopp’s mind that he’s ready for the Premier League opener, where Liverpool will want to get off to a good start. Then there’s the doubt of his fitness, too – there will have been two weeks between games, after all. He may lose the match-fitness he had.
Although, he’ll still be fitter than Alexander-Arnold. And with a packed schedule ahead, giving the no.66 as much rest as possible makes a lot of sense. Klopp needs to decide what’s best, then – easing Alexander-Arnold into the season or getting off on the front foot.
Liverpool’s starting midfield was pretty awful against Arsenal. They didn’t create anything and the majority of play from both sides completely bypassed them. The most notable thing, then, was Klopp not picking Naby Keita from the start.
We covered some reasons why that might be here. In short, he may not trust the Guinean enough right now. But if Liverpool want a better performance against Leeds, they have to change the midfield.
Keita is the most obvious addition. He’s a senior, experienced player and one who can make things happen with the ball. Jordan Henderson is still coming back from an injury, so we don’t yet know if he’s an option, too.
Keita, though, definitely is. He’s got a little under two weeks to show Klopp he’s ready for the Premier League opener – and we really hope he pulls it off.
Klopp switching to 4-2-3-1 was undoubtedly the biggest takeaway from Saturday. It’s a formation we haven’t seen with the first-team for some time and it’s potentially game-changing.
Liverpool definitely improved with the switch-around and the question now is whether Klopp starts with it against Leeds. The Reds looked flat from the start at Wembley but the change immediately livened up their play.
Takumi Minamino had a place in the system and thrived – he quickly looked like a bright light for the season ahead. Roberto Firmino got on the ball far more, which is always a good thing for the team.
If there’s any worry that Liverpool will be flat, then changing the formation makes a lot of sense. Klopp needs to decide if that’s the way to go – or to stick with the tried and trusted 4-3-3 that dominated last season.