Liverpool team news and starting line-up selections for Premier League game away to Arsenal.
A tweak could cause Arsenal major issues
Paul Gorst: This is a huge game for the Reds this afternoon, one with the potential to transform a season in flux.
And the big question for Jurgen Klopp is whether he sticks with the adjustment to the 4-4-2 used for the Rangers game or not. Liverpool looked a lot better in the new system on Tuesday night but the obvious caveat is that the Scots are not at the sort of level Klopp’s men will be up against at the Emirates.
But perhaps it’s time for a change in the Premier League? The 4-3-3 has been battled tested for years but a tweak could cause Arsenal major issues today.
I’m resisting the urge to recall both Ibrahima Konate and Fabinho and leaving both Joel Matip and Jordan Henderson in the side for this one. Brazil midfielder Fabinho can be used to protect a lead off the bench.
Another big call is whether to restore Roberto Firmino and who misses out between Darwin Nunez and Diogo Jota if the answer is yes to that question. For me, I think the change in system will suit Firmino best of all Liverpool’s players but Jota loves playing Arsenal and Nunez needs a good run of games to take flight as a £64m striker.
My team (4-2-3-1): Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Matip, Van Dijk, Tsimikas; Henderson, Thiago; Salah, Jota, Diaz; Nunez
Thiago Alcantara pushed into more attacking role
Ian Doyle: Are Arsenal real Premier League title contenders? Almost certainly not, given Manchester City already have the championship almost in the bag with three-quarters of the season to go.
But they could be a top-four challenger, and that’s what makes Liverpool’s trip to the Emirates so important this afternoon. What, then, is Jurgen Klopp to do?
There will most likely be no change in defence. At least not yet. That means Alisson Becker in goal, Trent Alexander-Arnold at right-back, Kostas Tsimikas at left-back and the centre-backs being Virgil van Dijk and Joel Matip.
The formation is the trickier call. I’d stick with it, but with a subtle change. That means Fabinho joining Jordan Henderson in the double anchor, with Thiago Alcantara pushed into the more attacking role.
Up top, Diogo Jota loves to annoy Arsenal so he can start down the middle, with Luis Diaz left and Mohamed Salah right. Darwin Nunez can be a pest later on.
My team (4-2-3-1): Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Matip, Van Dijk, Tsimikas; Henderson, Fabinho; Salah, Thiago, Diaz, Jota.
Darwin Nunez forced to settle for a position on the bench
Keifer MacDonald: The BIG question for Jurgen Klopp this afternoon is whether he sticks or twists. Having deployed a new-look 4-4-2/4-2-3-1 as Liverpool brushed past Rangers in the Champions League, in a game the Reds would have been expected to win despite their ongoing struggles, a trip to the Emirates to face Mikel Arteta’s high-flying Arsenal feels like a more adequate litmus test.
Given the Gunners’ quality, a decision to play a forward four at the Emirates could ultimately prove to be counterproductive as Liverpool abandoned their frenzied, gung-ho style of play under the German many years ago – a decision which has since led to extraordinary achievements both internationally and domestically.
But the Reds boss’ comments after Tuesday’s victory, which insisted the tactical tweak was conducted with his side at the forefront of his mind and not their opponents, suggests Klopp could stick to this week’s winning formula in North London.
However, the Liverpool manager also performed the other half of his bluff excellently at the AXA Training Centre on Friday morning as he paid homage to the trophy-sweeping 4-3-3 line-up, insisting his side’s performance levels are to blame not the system.
At the back, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Kostas Tsimikas keep their places on the right and left flank respectively, with Ibrahima Konate not yet dislodging Joel Matip from his position alongside Virgil van Dijk.
Midfield returns to a three-man gathering as Fabinho is brought back into the fold after being dropped for Tuesday’s victory over the Gers. He sits at the base of the three, while Jordan Henderson and Thiago Alcantara retain their places in the starting XI after impressive displays last time out.
With an extra body returning to the engine room, one of the Reds’ forward quartet is forced to drop out. And given Jota’s impressive record against the Gunners – eight goals in 11 outings – it’s the Portugal international who is given the nod to lead the line in North London.