Jurgen Klopp claimed he was ‘hopeful’ that Joel Matip would start for Liverpool against Burnley on Thursday. With that said, it could hand a rare opportunity to either Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain or Naby Keita.
Both of the aforementioned names are still yet to fulfil their potential since making big-money moves to Anfield.
Luckily for them, time is still on their side and a number of mitigating circumstances could work in their favour.
Much-needed tactical change
For one, Matip’s long overdue return will see Jordan Henderson’s much-needed return to midfield. And as a result, it could free up a potential vacancy for either Keita or Oxalde-Chamberlain to fill.
Liverpool’s recent poor form increases the likelihood of this, too. Henderson as well as Thiago Alcantara, are both guaranteed first-choice midfielders, after all, but there are still uncertainties as to who should partner the midfield duo.
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Indeed, Gini Wijnaldum is the obvious choice. However, considering the fact the Dutchman is due to leave in the coming months, Klopp could look for an alternate solution.
Also, given Henderson’s and Thiago’s limitations in attack, Klopp may want a more front-footed option to complete his midfield triumvirate.
Both Henderson and Thiago are better at dictating and setting the tempo of a match as opposed of conjuring up opportunities in the final third. With that said, Liverpool need someone with the required attacking qualities to link-up with the forward trident.
As a result, Klopp, then, could call on the likes of Keita and Oxlade-Chamberlain to demonstrate their talents in the coming weeks. Curtis Jones will also be in the equation, too.
The fixtures are still coming thick-and-fast for Liverpool, so regular rotation will be needed. Goals have dried up in the team, too, as of late – a tactical change in midfield could inspire some much-needed attacking potency.
Keita and Oxlade-Chamberlain have both failed to make their mark yet this season. Time is on their side, but it’s what the pair choose to do with it that will be key in defining their season.
Let’s hope either two of Klopp’s big-money acquisitions can finally lay claim to their position in Liverpool’s starting XI.