If Liverpool are to retain their Premier League title, then it’s imperative they get over their tumultuous start to the season, tighten up at the back, and get the snowball rolling yet again.
Wednesday’s win in Amsterdam slowed the downward spiral to a crawl, but they have a few questions yet to answer, and will have to start doing so when Sheffield United come to town on Saturday evening.
With plenty of injuries to contend with however, Jurgen Klopp will have to use the full depth of his squad. Here is the XI he should start for the Reds’ return to Anfield.
Adrian (GK) – Klopp is yet to lose faith in the Spaniard as his backup keeper, and his performance against Ajax showed why. He’s not as commanding as Alisson though, and will need to improve that aspect of his game if he is to retain his spot – especially with Virgil van Dijk’s prolonged absence.
Trent Alexander-Arnold (RB) – The England defender is Liverpool’s main source of creativity, though there have been questions asked of him defensively. Part of the parcel for such a young player, however – he’s still just 22.
Fabinho (CB) – ‘Best centre-back in the world’ was the shout after another commanding performance against Ajax during the week. That’s overstating it slightly, but his displays at the heart of defence have eased Klopp’s headache somewhat, and he deserves to start there yet again even if Matip is back in the picture.
Joe Gomez (CB) – Yet to hit the levels he did last season, but Gomez remains an excellent defender, and has the best left foot of Liverpool’s available centre-halves.
Andy Robertson (LB) – The Scotland captain is the sort of player Klopp dreams of, running himself into the ground game after game without a single complaint or sign of fatigue. He will make his 100th league appearance for Liverpool here.
Naby Keita (CM) – Keita hasn’t been seen since he was withdrawn at half time against Aston Villa, but he’s raring to go now. He impressed in the early part of the season however, and he should go back in here.
Jordan Henderson (CDM) – It doesn’t seem likely Thiago will be risked from the start even if he is cleared to feature. Henderson, then, will fill in at holding midfield, where he so effectively acts as the heartbeat and driving force of the Liverpool team.
Georginio Wijnaldum (CM) – Of Liverpool’s midfielders, only Fabinho has played more minutes this season than Wijnaldum. All that chat about Thiago making him redundant seems really silly now, doesn’t it?
Mohamed Salah (RW) – The fantastic Egyptian has set the pace for the Reds this season with six goals in eight appearances. Four-season wonder, etc.
Roberto Firmino (CF) – You can separate people who watch football from people who don’t with one simple question: do you rate Roberto Firmino? His goal record (which isn’t even bad, by the way) is inconsequential beside his overall influence on the team.
Sadio Mané (LW) – Klopp’s decision to remove all of his first-choice front three on the hour mark during the week is a pretty clear indicator that they will each start here. Mane’s infectious energy and clinical touch will be integral as ever.