Jurgen Klopp has Liverpool selection dilemma for Merseyside derby and new signings can profit
EPL

Jurgen Klopp has Liverpool selection dilemma for Merseyside derby and new signings can profit

Oct 25, 2023

In the hubbub surrounding Liverpool’s midfield rebuild, Curtis Jones established himself as a mainstay for the Reds.

Their unbeaten run, ended recently in controversial circumstances at Tottenham, started with Jones’ return to the side and in the Reds solid start to the campaign, where they have picked up 17 points from the opening eight matches, the 22-year-old has been key.

Jones is key for LIverpool but  now absent through suspension

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Jones is key for LIverpool but now absent through suspensionCredit: Getty

The youngster’s dismissal in the loss at Spurs though presented Jurgen Klopp with a selection dilemma. Jones, Alexis Mac Allister and Dominik Szoboszlai have forged quite the trio in the middle of the park, but this was broken for the recent 2-2 draw at Brighton.

Ryan Gravenberch’s performance in the days prior to the stalemate at the AMEX against Union St.Gilloise gave Klopp food for thought though the Reds boss elected for Harvey Elliott in his midfield trio on the south coast.

If Elliott had hoped to use that showing as a chance to stake a claim for a regular spot, then he didn’t pass the test. The 20-year-old was hooked at half time having returned a WhoScored.com rating of just 6.15 at Brighton; only Alisson (5.03) earned lower of Liverpool starters in the stalemate.

His replacement, Gravenberch, then put in a far more assured display at the Seagulls following his introduction for the second half. The reservation to throw the Dutchman into the XI at Brighton was understandable, even after the standout display in the Europa League a couple of days prior, but Gravenberch’s showing off the bench at Brighton could cause re-think of Klopp’s selection for the Merseyside Derby on Saturday.

Liverpool welcome Everton to Anfield in the early kick off this weekend, with the Reds forced into another lunchtime Premier League encounter. Whereas last season, injuries certainly impacted Klopp’s desire to rotate in the middle of the park, he has the luxury of being able to call upon a core group in a key area of the pitch. Elliott has been on the books for some time now, so there is familiarity with Klopp’s demands, while Gravenberch has proven a solid pick up from Bayern Munich in his cameo outings.

Wataru Endo is also an option for the Liverpool boss to deputise for Jones, so there are several possibilities for Klopp. However, there are other mitigating circumstances that might just impact Klopp’s selection.

The Reds have four South American players on the books, all of whom were called up to their respective national teams for their CONMEBOL World Cup qualification matches.

Midfielder Mac Allister is one of those and having played Peru for Argentina in the early hours of Wednesday morning, his international excursions in South America might play a part in Klopp’s decision making for Saturday’s game at Anfield.

Gravenberch has hit the ground running at Liverpool and could soon be utilised more

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Gravenberch has hit the ground running at Liverpool and could soon be utilised moreCredit: Getty
Endo is already a starter for Liverpool following his summer transfer

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Endo is already a starter for Liverpool following his summer transferCredit: Getty

With such a quick turnaround in matches, it makes sense for Klopp to utilise his full squad as the Reds gear up for a seven-game haul between now and the November international break.

Granted, Endo jetted off to Japan and played an hour in the 4-1 win over Canada and the full 90 in the win over Tunisia, yet the latter game was done and dusted well before Argentina kicked off their meeting with Peru. As such, the former VfB Stuttgart man would, in theory, be the fresher of the two midfielders for the Merseyside Derby.

Given they’d play as the deepest lying midfielder in Klopp’s favoured 4-3-3 formation, it ultimately depends on whether the Liverpool head coach would prefer his tried-and-tested Argentine as the anchor in the side or to use the more experienced Japanese star against their fierce rivals with the games set to come thick and fast over the coming weeks.

Ultimately, Klopp will look to take the game to Everton. Liverpool boast a superb record over their Merseyside rivals at Anfield and while the Toffees began to show signs of improvement prior to the domestic hiatus, it’s still difficult to look beyond a Reds win in Saturday’s lunchtime kick off. Mac Allister’s reliability when it comes to his availability should help with Klopp’s potential selection conundrum.

Szoboszlai has also made an impression since his arrival at Anfield

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Szoboszlai has also made an impression since his arrival at AnfieldCredit: Getty

Factor in Andy Robertson’s injury, which will already force a change in personnel at the back, and Klopp needs his tried and tested in the middle of the park.

As such, Szoboszlai and Mac Allister should be called upon once more, and if the draw with Brighton gave an indication on his future midfield selections, Gravenberch should round off the trio in the middle of the park. Providing the necessary attacking thrust to peg Everton back, the Dutchman’s inclusion from the outset would be the logical choice against Sean Dyche’s side.

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