Jurgen Klopp has three games before New Year that must feature his best possible XI. The boss faces a tough task over the next month.
Liverpool’s fixture list is about to get tough. Everyone’s is, to be fair, but the Reds face the most difficult task.
Injuries have crippled the team. Virgil van Dijk, Joe Gomez, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Thiago, Jordan Henderson, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, and Mohamed Salah are all missing right now.
Fabinho is only just coming back. Joel Matip has played just one game since an injury. Sadio Mane has been out, as has Alisson. It is, by anyone’s stretch of the imagination, an injury crisis.
But Liverpool have 12 games before the end of the New Year period when they’ll finally get a rest. It works out to around a game every three days. That’s not easy to handle when you don’t have a full squad.
Thus Jurgen Klopp will have to rotate his XI as best he can. But three games will necessitate the top players available.
The first is on Sunday. The Reds host Leicester City, the league leaders, and do so without the players mentioned above. Klopp has little choice but to play the best team he can and it still won’t be near his preferred XI.
The next time he must use his best players comes on December 5th when Liverpool host Wolves. They’re a very good side with dangerous players and much like against Leicester, we don’t see how a severely weakened side could beat them.
Because any rotated side won’t be a ‘normal’ rotated side. It will be rotated from an already depleted selection of players. It would likely feature youth players, possibly making senior debuts, and certainly won’t be a group used to playing together.
A team like that can only play games where Liverpool either fancy their chances with it or losing isn’t too bad.
The remaining Champions League games, for instance, won’t necessitate the best XI. Liverpool can qualify without going all-out.
But the game on December 16th will require ‘all-out’. It’s at home again and it’s against Tottenham Hotspur.
Spurs look like genuine title challengers this season and Liverpool need to win that game. So while we think Leicester and Wolves also ‘deserve’ the first-team, that Spurs game is the one above all others.
Fortunately, all three games are at home. That hands Liverpool a nice advantage and in some ways means Klopp has to play his best XI in each – they’re winnable no matter what.