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Opinion: Liverpool could throw Curtis Jones straight in vs Manchester United

Liverpool could well throw Curtis Jones right back in to face Manchester United on Sunday. The Scouser has missed the last two games through injury.

There’s an apparent expectation that Curtis Jones will be fit for Sunday. The 20-year-old didn’t face either Watford or Atletico Madrid over the last week after picking up a problem on international duty.

Jurgen Klopp was essentially fuming at that a week ago, not understanding why England Under 21s played Jones against Andorra. Especially as it has been previously reported that he had a problem.

But per the Liverpool Echo, Jones may return for Sunday’s massive fixture at Old Trafford. And if he does indeed prove his fitness, we think there’s a real chance he goes straight into the side.

Curtis Jones vs Manchester United

Fabinho will almost certainly return for this one, while Jordan Henderson is another certainty in midfield. As for the third player, Klopp has four options.

There are Naby Keita and James Milner, of course. Those two started in both Hertfordshire and Madrid and certainly played well in the former. The latter was a mixed bag – though, Keita did score a sensational goal.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is another option. He was fantastic as a substitute against Atletico but we think Klopp should stick with that strategy. His impact from the bench could once again be vital.

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The case for Jones over Keita or Milner comes from wanting to attack United. Or at least, to have the ability to attack in numbers.

They typically only play with two sitting midfielders, as opposed to Liverpool’s three. Those players try to prevent passes between the lines and cover the full-backs – it’s a lot of work for two.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer himself brought this up after losing to Leicester City.

“We might have to change. Do we need more legs in there? What do we need?” he asked himself(?).

That came after playing Paul Pogba in the middle with Nemanja Matic. Those two energetic, hard-work-first midfielders and struggled to cover United’s front-four.

Photo by John Powell/Liverpool FC via Getty Images

He did change things against Atalanta, with Scott McTominay and Fred playing, but even those two struggled to completely hold things together.

But the point is that United rely on two midfielders to do an awful lot of work. Liverpool will already put pressure on the duo by attacking wide with wingers and full-backs to stretch the midfield.

Adding Jones, though, could be the final ingredient that overwhelms United. He’s the most creative and progressive midfielder at Liverpool, as he showed against FC Porto. With the Scouser bursting through midfield, we’re not sure Solskjaer’s side will cope with everything – not with two sitting players, anyway.

Jones offers a wonderful balance of consistent passing, pressing, and a desire to break through the lines. As United worry about the makeup of their XI, he could be the last person they want to see.

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