Some Liverpool players face a crunch game against Aston Villa on Friday in the FA Cup Third Round. It’s a must-win game if the Reds have any Double aspirations this season, of course.
Despite that, we don’t expect Jurgen Klopp to put out his strongest side. Instead, he’ll likely rotate.
That will mean a big game for certain players. So here are three Liverpool players who should feel the pressure against Villa.
We discussed this one in extra detail on the site this morning. Minamino is, in certain ways, facing a make-or-break week.
The Villa game is key. Minamino needs his chance and he needs to perform. If he doesn’t, it’s difficult to see where his next big opportunity comes from.
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The FA Cup can be a big competition for Minamino in terms of getting him starts. He needs to make sure that continues and that he can force his way into Klopp’s plans for the season’s crunch time.
Curtis Jones’s emergence should worry Oxlade-Chamberlain as much as Thiago’s arrival. Both players move him down the pecking order somewhat – short-term and long-term.
It’s harsh, of course. Injury kept Oxlade-Chamberlain out of football until late December, leaving him without the opportunities others have had.
But with so many numbers in midfield, being low down the list is a worrying place. Liverpool could trim those numbers this summer, after all, and Oxlade-Chamberlain could fetch a decent price.
Thus the 27-year-old needs to perform immediately to assert himself in the competition for places. Friday offers a good opportunity to do just that.
Phillips has already enjoyed a far better season than anyone imagined. But he’ll surely have felt a blow when Klopp played Jordan Henderson at centre-half against Southampton.
The fact Liverpool lost works in Phillips’s favour somewhat, though. Klopp might not be so quick to try that again.
But if Phillips wants a good shot at a Liverpool career – or even just more games this season – he’ll need a cup run.
Again, this might not be about setting himself up for a career with Liverpool long-term. Instead, he can make a name for himself and secure a decent club next season.
He needs games to do that, though, and the FA Cup is perfect. If he plays, then it’s a huge game for the defender.