Jurgen Klopp has a problem at right-back today as Liverpool host Manchester City at Anfield. One tweak could solve the issue, however.
Liverpool face Manchester City today and do so without their star right-back. Trent Alexander-Arnold will miss the fixture and that’s clearly a serious problem.
Alexander-Arnold has been a part of the best defence in the league over the last few years while also offering record-breaking creativity from his position. He’s honestly one of a kind. Without him, Jurgen Klopp needs to make a sacrifice.
He can play James Milner in the role but the 35-year-old lacks experience at right-back. Alternatively, Joe Gomez could move across but he’s nowhere near the creative threat that Alexander-Arnold is – or Milner, for that matter.
That’s why we expect Milner to start the game – even if he doesn’t like the position. Liverpool lose quite a lot of threat by playing Gomez there, even if he’s best-suited to handling Jack Grealish.
But what if Klopp was determined to play Gomez? He admitted on Friday that it’s an option, after all. We think one tactical tweak would make the 24-year-old a perfectly viable right-back.
Gomez at right-back today?
The trick here is to lesson the pressure on Gomez to get forward. Liverpool couldn’t afford for the defender to be their primary creator on the right flank.
The best way to do that is to make sure there’s another player staying wide on that side of the pitch. Usually, Mohamed Salah is ahead of Alexander-Arnold and consistently looking to cut inside.
That leaves space for the no.66 to bomb on – but Gomez won’t want to do that. Thus Salah’s usual role isn’t ideal.
One tweak can fix the issue. Either Klopp could move a midfielder forward or a forward backwards.
Moving one centre-midfielder into the no.10 space, for instance, creates more of a front-four. It also adds numbers into the middle, meaning the wide players are forced wide where the space is. Salah perhaps isn’t best-suited to that role as a left-footer but both Diogo Jota and Sadio Mane could do it well.
The two-man midfield then shield the defence and Gomez doesn’t need to push on. There would be a winger there, after all.
Alternatively, Klopp could bring a forward backwards and create a 4-4-2. We could even see Milner play wide-right in a midfield four, putting both him and Gomez into the side.
This would mean sacrificing a forward, of course, but it would give Liverpool the best of both worlds on the right.