Thiago faces several weeks on the sidelines after picking up a hamstring injury in Liverpool’s Premier League opener at Fulham, so how do the Reds prepare without him?
The Spaniard’s season is threatening to follow a familiar pattern, with much of his time on Merseyside interrupted by a series of injuries.
With Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Curtis Jones also out, and Naby Keita only just returning from illness, there are sections of Liverpool’s fan base who want to see another midfield option added to the ranks before the transfer window closes. summer transfer
For now, Jurgen Klopp seems happy to stick with what he’s got, so what might Liverpool’s engine room look like in the absence of their midfield maestro?
Elliott – Fabinho – Henderson
Who was the player Klopp immediately called up when Thiago pulled up at Craven Cottage? Harvey Elliott.
That, of course, could be an indication that the 19-year-old will remain in place for the next few weeks, especially given the impact he had on the game following his introduction.
His new contract, the third new deal he has signed in three years, would certainly suggest he is ready for an even more prominent role in the team this season.
What may work against him is the fact that he is usually deployed on the right side of Liverpool’s midfield trio, with Liverpool needing someone to fill Thiago’s void on the left.
The obvious solution would be to shift Jordan Henderson to the left, to allow Elliott to get in on the opposite side, as was the case against Fulham.
Klopp told reporters that Elliott was like “a new signing” during pre-season and that the England Under-21 international flourished when given a regular run of starts at the start of the last campaign.
Much has been made of his potential, so now is it Elliott’s time to shine?
Henderson – Fabinho – Keita
That could be the most likely option for now, assuming Keita is ready to return against Crystal Palace on Monday.
We know how Klopp rates the Guinean, and he’s a natural for the role on the left of midfield.
Keita’s quality has never been questioned. When fit, he is a huge asset to this Liverpool team.
However, much like Thiago, much of his time at Anfield has been interrupted by injury.
However, it could be argued that 2021/22 was Keita’s best season to date, and with his contract set to expire at the end of this season, he will be particularly keen to ensure this campaign is a success.
Henderson – Fabinho – Milner
After signing a new one-year contract in the summer, James Milner is now in his eighth year as a Liverpool player.
Many assumed he would be happy to take up a role on the fringes of the first team this season, but Klopp’s recent comments would suggest that is not the case.
“I’m not sure what level he can reach this year, to be honest, he looks very promising with Milly,” the Liverpool manager said after the 36-year-old went on to help the Reds win the Community Shield against ‘man. City last month.
A week later, Milner was called upon again, with the Liverpool midfield producing an unusually disjointed performance at Fulham.
Having played much of his recent football as a full-back, this time he was asked to replace Fabinho in the No.6 role, and he did very well.
If Klopp wants to add more solidity and ensure his midfield pressing game is on point, Milner is the obvious choice.
Is it time to try the 4-2-3-1?
Liverpool’s decision to sign Núñez sparked theories among supporters that a switch to a 4-2-3-1 formation could be in the offing.
That has yet to materialise, and the fact that it hasn’t even been tested in pre-season would suggest it’s not something Klopp is considering just yet.
However, with Thiago adding to Liverpool’s ever-growing list of midfield injuries and a below-par performance against Fulham, could this be a good time to try something new?
Klopp certainly has the players at his disposal to try. Henderson and Fabinho are most likely to form the double pivot, with Salah, Núñez and Diaz expected to start in attack.
Who would fill the role behind Núñez? Roberto Firmino might be the most likely, but his performance at Fulham did him no favours.
Fabio Carvalho caught the eye of Liverpool playing as a number 10 at Fulham and looks ideal, and Harvey Elliott could also be an option. Food for thought!
Did Fabinho or Henderson go down?
Taking Henderson or Fabinho out of the squad with Thiago also absent may seem like a strange move, but there is always the possibility that Klopp could completely reshuffle his pack, especially after this performance at Fulham.
Elliott started a number of games ahead of Henderson at the start of 2021/22, with the skipper brought in late in pre-season following his participation at the Euros.
With Keita back in the mix, a midfield of him, Fabinho and Elliott could be a good balance.
Having gone behind in seven of their last nine games in all competitions, Klopp will want to ensure his side get off to a flying start against Palace.
Dropping Fabinho or Henderson and using more of their forward midfielders could be a good way to go about it.
#options #Liverpools #midfield #Thiago