Jurgen Klopp may have to play Naby Keita against Aston Villa later today. It would be a repeat of midweek’s disastrous decision.
Naby Keita isn’t an obvious selection against Aston Villa. After all, he was a disaster against Real Madrid.
Few expected Jurgen Klopp to throw him into the XI but that’s what he did, handing Keita his first start since the defeat to Fulham a month earlier.
It came at the expense of Thiago, who sat on the bench for 41 minutes before replacing Keita. The experiment had failed and Klopp didn’t waste much time correcting it.
Keita was lost out there – though, he wasn’t the only one. Still, the Guinean didn’t do the things we was brought in to do.
He wasn’t pressing, he wasn’t counter-attacking, nor was he covering Trent Alexander-Arnold’s runs properly. The full-back had a far more comfortable time with Thiago or Gini Wijnaldum ahead of him.
Still, we think it makes sense to play Keita against Villa.
This would actually be a repeat of two disasters, actually. Keita played the away game against Aston Villa, too, though he made it to half-time in that one.
But Klopp subbed him off early once again. Funnily enough, the midfield that started the 7-2 defeat was the same that played against Real.
Yet, we do think Klopp should perhaps try it again. If only because he will need to rest at least one player against Villa.
Liverpool have the return leg against Real on Wednesday, after all. Wijnaldum, in particular, looked tired in Madrid and it may be worth leaving him out of this one.
There’s an argument to start Keita in his place. It’s a risk, though.
If Keita is to make it at Liverpool, he needs to show he can handle the pressure and bounce back. There isn’t really a better opportunity to do that than later today.
It comes against an opponent he struggled against in a nightmare to start the season. It also comes just a few days after his nightmare against Real.
If Keita can jump into the XI and perform today, it’s a sign that he can turn things around. And you’ve got to hope that he’s motivated to do so.
In some ways, it would be a final chance. If Klopp threw him in and got same-old-Keita then it’s hard to see a way back.
But Liverpool signed Keita for a reason – he’s a highly talented player and one they want the best from. Starting him against Villa is a way to try and finally kickstart that.
Alternatively, start Curtis Jones or Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and use Keita as a sub. See what he can do against tired legs and use the squad to give Wijnaldum the day off.
Either way, we do think Keita should feature today.