Jurgen Klopp will have to change his plans in defence ahead of Liverpool’s Premier League game against Manchester City following a late injury to Ibrahima Konate.
Jurgen Klopp will have to re-jig his defence on the eve of the Manchester City match after Ibrahima Konate picked up a minor injury.
Konate was set to start Sunday’s crunch Premier League game against City at Anfield following Joel Matip’s withdrawal with an injury. The Frenchman has struggled with fitness issues this season, but started the 7-1 win over Rangers in the Champions League on Wednesday and was poised to partner Virgil van Dijk.
But The Athletic reports that Konate did not train on Friday due to a muscle problem. He is being assessed on Saturday and, while the problem is understood not to be serious, it is unlikely that Klopp will risk him, given his recent history on the sidelines.
Liverpool are already without Matip and Trent Alexander-Arnold for the match and Konate’s problem therefore gives Klopp another headache. Joe Gomez is now odds-on to play alongside Van Dijk in central defence, leaving James Milner to fill in at right-back, with new signing Calvin Ramsay still yet to make his debut following a summer move from Aberdeen.
If Klopp wanted to keep Gomez at right-back, then Nat Phillips is another option to play alongside Van Dijk against Erling Haaland, who has scored 20 goals in 13 games for Man City already.
Liverpool have been struggling defensively so far this season, having conceded 12 goals in eight games – double the number at the same point of last season. They also have injury problems further up the pitch, with Luis Diaz out until after the World Cup with a knee complaint, Arthur Melo also sidelined and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Naby Keita still not fit to feature.
Speaking after the win over Rangers, Klopp outlined the challenge facing him at 4.30pm on Sunday. “We are that dumb that we think [the confidence boost at Rangers] is the only thing we need to beat Man City,” he said.
Nothing really to do with that. We still have to figure out who is available after the Rangers game for the City game. Then we will make a line-up and we will go. If we would have lost we would have given it a try, and now we give it a try.”
Klopp has also spoken to Sky Sports about the difficulties of stopping Haaland with a depleted defence. “It’s not like Haaland will go all the time for Virgil van Dijk, there will be another centre-half there, and he will probably choose that then,” the German said. “If Haaland was alone on the pitch you would still have to defend him, he’s absolutely incredible. He’s a monster in the best understanding.
But with exceptional players around him, that’s what makes it so special. How they set him up in those moments is really special. It’s not possible to only mark Haaland and let the rest of Manchester City do what they want. If we do that, then we are screwed as well.”