Thursday, March 30, 2023

Can Liverpool Cope Without Their Dynamic Duo Against Manchester United?

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Arka Tarun Mukherjee
Arsenal fan and football expert, Arka Tarun Mukherjee actually used to play cricket at semi pro level. An ardent student of football tactics, ATM is very passionate about the tactical aspects of the game and has a dream of being a football manager in the future.

Liverpool boss Jürgen Klopp has been dealt a hammer blow with two of his midfielders getting injured and potentially being in doubt to feature against rivals Manchester United on Monday night for their next fixture of the Premier League. Wijnaldum was injured in his last international game against France. The former Newcastle United man has suffered a hamstring injury and is set to undergo a scan to determine the extent of his injury. It is almost certain that the Dutch international will miss the clash on Monday.

The other doubt is a more damaging one and it’s Adam Lallana. Lallana has been one of the most productive players for the Reds this season with his 3 goals and 3 assists from his 7 appearances so far. The Englishman is suffering from a groin injury after being forced out from the last match against Swansea City. Klopp is hopeful that Lallana might still be a part of the team when the Red Devils travel to Anfield but the scales are heavier on the side of him not playing a part in that match.

While Wijnaldum has been somebody who has contributed to the good form of his team so far being quietly efficient, Lallana has really stood out under the new manager this season scoring and assisting with ease alongside contributing efficiently in the defensive phase of the game initiating the counter press.

While the loss of Wijnaldum can be coped with the alternatives, Lallana is a far greater loss and losing both will be just disastrous. The absence of the duo would mean Klopp would need to reshuffle his midfield as Wijnaldum and Lallana are stationed on the either side of the club captain Jordan Henderson. If the two players are unable to play on Monday then the biggest question would be on who will be the players to replace them.

Liverpool's Dutch midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum controls the ball during the English Premier League football match between Chelsea and Liverpool at Stamford Bridge in London on September 16, 2016. / AFP / Adrian DENNIS / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or 'live' services. Online in-match use limited to 75 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club/league/player publications. / (Photo credit should read ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP/Getty Images)

So far, the fluid 4-3-3 Klopp has employed has fallen into place wonderfully well producing results. The front three of Coutinho, Firmino and Mane has been able to bamboozle the opposition with their movement and skill, scoring aplenty.

On Monday, if the hosts miss out on both, Coutinho would be required to drop into the midfield and James Milner would be shifted to his more natural midfield position rather than being the left back, where he has performed exceptionally well so far, and is actually the top scorer for his side in the league with 4 goals.

The shift for Milner would mean the error prone Moreno in as a left back which is a recipe for disaster. There are other options like Grujic, Can and Leiva to occupy the midfield positions but Grujic is still not tested enough to be through into a deep end of a highly intense clash with a rival while Can cannot give the positional discipline required to execute the manager’s strategy and Leiva is very defensive minded.

In any case, the shape and chemistry would be disrupted totally and without the balance, the hosts would be under heavy pressure from the visitors. It is really hard to see how the Reds would cope with the loss on Monday. The absence of both the players is thus surely to affect the hosts.

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