Jurgen Klopp facing Naby Keita conundrum as Liverpool ponder strikeforce overhaul
Liverpool began the season with disappointment by losing the Community Shield against Arsenal at Wembley on Saturday.
The Reds came from behind to draw 1-1 after 90 minutes but were ultimately beaten 5-4 on penalties in the decisive shoot-out.
The new champions begin their defence of the Premier League crown when they entertain promoted Leeds United on Saturday week.
Jurgen Klopp will now consider his options while keeping fingers crossed those now departing on international duty return free from injury.
And here we look ahead to the changes the Reds boss could make when his side are next in action.
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Williams on standby
Defensively, there is only on real selection poser for Klopp – who to play at right-back.
Trent Alexander-Arnold hasn’t featured in pre-season but will meet up with England on Monday for their Nations League games against Iceland and Denmark.
In his place, Neco Williams had a tough time against Arsenal but will prepared to go again should Alexander-Arnold not be quite ready. Another option is James Milner.
Andy Robertson has responded to the arrival of Kostas Tsimikas with a clutch of good performances and was Liverpool’s best player at Wembley.
With Joel Matip only expected to return to training this week, Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez are almost certain to remain at the heart of defence.
The midfield was found wanting somewhat against Arsenal for the first hour.
That changed when Naby Keita was introduced, the Guinean having been heavily-tipped to start after good form since the return to action after lockdown in June.
Gini Wijnaldum was below par against the Gunners although Fabinho improved on his showing against Red Bull Salzburg while Milner was solid as stand-in skipper.
Klopp hopes Jordan Henderson could be available, but it’s unlikely Liverpool will take any risks given such a hectic start to the campaign.
Change of attacking approach?
The above assumes Liverpool stick to their tried-and-trusted 4-3-3 formation.
However, the Reds were far more dangerous when they switched to 4-2-3-1 for the final half-hour against Arsenal.
Key to that was the introduction of Takumi Minamino on the left, which allowed Roberto Firmino to drop in behind central forward Mohamed Salah while Sadio Mane switched to the right.
With Divock Origi absent, Xherdan Shaqiri recovering from injury and Rhian Brewster primed for bench duty, Minamino is emerging as the genuine first alternative to the regular front three.
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