Can Jurgen Klopp juggle his squad to keep Liverpool on top?
Daniel Anwar | 12 December 2018
It’s a crucial period for the Reds
Liverpool sit a point ahead of Manchester City at the top of the Premier League and are now the only unbeaten side remaining in the division.
But Jurgen Klopp’s side face five games in 19 days, starting with Sunday’s trip to Manchester United and ending with a huge game away to the champions on 3rd January. They also host Arsenal in between, as well as facing Wolves and Newcastle United.
The Merseysiders are 13/5 to end their long wait for the title. They’re in the driving seat. But can they stay on track with so many obstacles coming up?
Klopp will need to make full use of his squad to get through a daunting schedule. We’ve taken a look at some of the players who could step up.
Shaqiri’s time to shine?
Bringing in Xherdan Shaqiri in a cut-price £13m deal was a smart move by the Merseysiders. He can help to ease the burden on their front trio in the coming weeks.
The Switzerland international has been rotated in and out of the side by Klopp, but he’s provided three goals and three assists during his limited playing time.
Mohamed Salah is in red-hot form right now, but Sadio Mane looks like he could do with a breather. He was guilty of missing several chances in Tuesday’s win over Napoli. With so much at stake, those misses could have been costly.
Shaqiri has shown enough to suggest he can be relied upon to deliver. His ability to play in the number 10 role also gives the manager scope to switch up his approach.
More from midfield
There was plenty of excitement surrounding the arrivals of Naby Keita and Fabinho in the summer, but neither of them has cemented their place in the midfield yet.
Keita made a bright start to life in England. His skill and energy looked like they would add new strings to Liverpool’s bow, though he’s recently had a spell on the sidelines with injury.
Fabinho had to wait until the end of October to make his first start in the league. His ability to win the ball in midfield can help the Reds to keep piling pressure on opponents.
Adam Lallana has also been on the fringes this term. Keita, Fabinho and the Englishman all have a role to play in the coming weeks.
Rotate the full-backs?
Andrew Robertson and Trent Alexander-Arnold are crucial to Liverpool’s gameplan. They add width to the side and constantly swing dangerous crosses into the box.
But getting up and down the pitch is very hard work. At some point, Klopp may need to bring in Alberto Moreno and Nathaniel Clyne to freshen things up. But Moreno is questionable defensively, while Clyne hasn’t played regularly for a long time.
With huge games against United, Arsenal and City on the horizon, Klopp may bring them in against Newcastle or Wolves, two games that Liverpool will be very confident of winning.
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