Liverpool’s first home game of the season is upon us. Juergen Klopp would be looking to set the precedent of what to expect when a visiting team comes calling at castle Anfield. Claudio Ranieri’s Foxes could be in for a first-hand demo of the carnage Klopp’s dogs of wars are capable of, as the leashes are let loose.
Goalkeeper: Simon Mignolet
Shades it on the virtue of match fitness. It won’t be long before the dreamboat and potential Calvin and Klein underwear model, Loris Karius takes the Belgian’s gloves away as easily as he takes the breath away. Despite his competent showing, he was guilty of letting Danny Rose’s shot beat him at the near post – an area symptomatic of Liverpool’s keepers since Pepe Reina was beaten (embarrassed) by Abou Diaby in 2007-08’s Champions League quarter-final fixture vs Arsenal. Simon still has a lot to do to be taken seriously by the Anfield faithful.
Right-back: Nathaniel Clyne
Apart from a couple of atypical concentration lapses by the tireless full-back, he was solid vs Tottenham. However, being a defender first and foremost, he’d be graded any time he downs his guard. One of those moments saw Danny Rose overlap him, a tiring Sadio Mane losing out in the chase, could do nothing but see the Doncaster-born score the equaliser. Klopp is expected to ask his full-backs to push the tempo in possession, overloading the flanks in order to take Liverpool’s lacklustre central midfield out of the equation for vast majority of the build-up, and funnel the attacks through the wings. This in itself could prove to be double-edged, considering Clyne would always need to be looking over his shoulder.
Right Centre-back: Ragnar Klavan
Missed the Tottenham match due to a knock, Liverpool could have used his composure on the ball when things went helter skelter in the second-half, with the London club piling on the pressure, and eventually getting their equaliser. Ragnar (RAGNAAAAR!) would be brought back into the foil to provide just that, with the wily Ranieri’s team being deadly on the break.
Left Centre-back: Joel Matip
The stylish centre-back will be Liverpool’s inception point of attack from the back. His showing vs Tottenham would have eased their fan’s worries about the defensive conundrum down the middle, as not too long ago they were faced with an injury crisis. At 6’4” he’ll stand head and shoulders above most, but would need to be extra careful when he steps up, as Leicester have more than enough players with pace, who would get on the end of threaded through balls.
Left-back: James Milner
The former England international seemed like he had a point to prove amongst widespread doubts over his capabilities as a fill-in left-back – and he proved it, he did, vs Tottenham. While there were a few occasions where he was beaten for pace – a worrying sign if Leicester’s speedsters target him, he was overall, for the course of the match at White Hart Lane, a mobile, square-jawed, brick wall, with the full repertoire of blocks, sliding tackles and intercepts. He’d need to be just as resolute.
Central Defensive-midfielder: Lucas Leiva
Long time, no see, meho?
Finally returning to match-fitness, the much-maligned is a personal favourite of mine. Yes, he’s now perpetually two yards off the pace, and subsequently late in the tackle, but he called James Pearce out, and for that, he’s a hero.
@JamesPearceEcho can you have more responsibility when you involve my name?
You putting me against the fans for something I’ve nothing to do
— Lucas Leiva (@LucasLeiva87) August 23, 2016
He’ll add the much-needed rusty tacks and barbed-wire variety of tackling in the midfield, as the sole out and out defensive midfielder in Liverpool’s ranks. Will be pivotal to this template working out.
Central Midfield Hustler: Jordan Henderson
It’s can be one of the most discouraging things for a footballer to go through, if fans called you to be axed off your captaincy, for the type of player you are. The big boots of Steven Gerrard will always be a size too large for the Sunderland man, no matter how far he progresses. While his talents may always be understated given the role that he’s been designated with, the importance of his contribution cannot be. Henderson will be the hustler in Liverpool’s midfield, assisting Lucas and shoring up any gaps.
Central Midfield Shuttler: Roberto Firmino
As German a Brazilian as they come. Bob will be ghosting into the box when he’s lot nipping on the heels of the opposition in midfield. Prior to his arrival, he was statistically speaking, the midfielder with the highest number of turnovers in possession the attacking half, for three seasons. Klopp would count on his switchblade knife efficacy on and off the ball to add the cut and thrust in the Liverpool midfield.
Left Attacking Playmaker: Phil Coutinho
A private jet was seeing taxi-ing in the air and waiting for Phil Coutinho’s signal (taking off his shin guards at full-time) at the Arena Amazonia in Manaus, the venue for Tuesday’s World Cup qualifier vs Colombia. If that doesn’t highlight his importance in this Liverpool set-up, I don’t know what does.
Right Wing-forward: Sadio Mane
Sadio Mane will be looking to give Leicester City a taste of their own medicine. Subbed off early in Senegal’s midweek fixture vs Namibia, he’d get enough rest to refuel his afterburners and revving up to scorch the turf at Anfield for the very first time in the red of Liverpool.
Central Striker: Danny Sturridge
There is no doubt that Daniel Sturridge is one of the most natural finishers in Europe. If only he wouldn’t shoot his mouth off as often as he takes his shots on. Here’s hoping he learned his lesson after being benched by Juergen vs Tottenham. In this formation, he’d have a whole host of chances to establish himself as a regular for Liverpool side. His actions will speak louder than his words.