Jurgen Klopp may be down to the bare bones in certain areas of the squad yet the Liverpool boss still has some key decisions to make this weekend.
Liverpool host West Ham on Saturday evening hoping to maintain their recent winning run that has seen three consecutive victories across both the Premier League and Europe.
Getting the team right will be key if the English champions are to overcome a Hammers side that has already taken points from Manchester City, Tottenham, Leicester and Wolves from their opening six league matches.
Here are four decisions facing Klopp ahead of the Anfield clash…
Get Williams into the defence
Liverpool’s defence is currently depleted beyond belief following yet another central defensive injury in midweek.
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Fabinho was forced off with a hamstring problem during the 2-0 victory against FC Midtjylland and subsequently is expected to miss Liverpool’s next three matches.
This leaves Klopp with a big decision to make as to who will partner Joe Gomez at the weekend. 19-year-old Rhys Williams and Jordan Henderson represent the manager’s most likely options.
Williams came off the bench in midweek to make his second Champions League appearance in just six days, and Klopp could consider handing the teenager his Premier League debut against West Ham.
Henderson, meanwhile, has experience playing at the heart of the defence alongside Gomez after the Liverpool skippered partnered his fellow England international in the FIFA Club World Cup last year.
Does Wijnaldum come back in?
Georginio Wijnaldum has been in inspiring form in recent weeks and he impressed once again when he came off the bench during Tuesday’s win against Midtjylland.
The Dutchman was overlooked from the starting XI after Klopp agreed between Wijnaldum and Henderson that both will be permitted a half each which would suggest that he was managing both players accordingly ahead of Saturday’s clash at Anfield.
Most likely, Wijnaldum and Henderson will be partnered together as a two-man midfield with the likes of Fabinho, Thiago Alcantara and Naby Keita all fitness concerns heading into the clash.
Keep a 4-2-3-1 system?
Klopp certainly sought an element of surprise by ditching his usual 4-3-3 system for a 4-2-3-1 formation in the previous week’s hard-fought win over Sheffield United.
The boss had been wary of the two teams’ contrasting preparations and looked to throw the opposition off guard with a systematic tactical change that focussed on a greater onus in attack.
It didn’t work perfectly. Following a bright start, Liverpool lost their way after falling victim to another controversial VAR decision.
The formation certainly functioned a lot better in the second half and, given the attacking options at Klopp’s disposal, the tactical tweak made perfect sense.
Maintain an attack-minded approach
One of the reasons that Klopp’s change of system was such a big hit with supporters, was largely due to the fact it allowed Diogo Jota to play alongside Liverpool’s pedigreed front-three for the first time since his £41 million move from Wolves.
Jota has showcased to Klopp that he is more than just an impact player and his performances warranted a cause for a starting berth.
He was given just that against Sheffield United and the man described by Klopp’s assistant Pep Lijnders as “a pressing monster” became the first Liverpool player since Sadio Mane in 2016 to score in his first two home Premier League appearances for the club when he nodded home the winner.
Also, the change of formation allowed Mohamed Salah to operate as a central striker which meant the Egyptian spent more time in dangerous areas of the pitch. Only a tight offside call and the width of the post denied him the goals that would round-off an exceptional display.
Roberto Firmino also benefited from Klopp’s tactical tweak after the Brazilian was deployed in a deeper role behind Salah. It was a shrewd decision from the manager as it enabled Liverpool’s No.9 more space and time on the ball to dictate possession.
It also saw Firmino score his first goal of the season to end a barren run that had previously seen him clock up just two goals in 26 appearances.
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