Liverpool Q&A RECAP: What kind of team to expect against Union Saint-Gilloise with Man United on the horizon… Lewis Steele answers all your questions

Liverpool Q&A RECAP: What kind of team to expect against Union Saint-Gilloise with Man United on the horizon… Lewis Steele answers all your questions

Dec 29, 2023


RECAP Mail Sport’s live blog as Lewis Steele answered your questions before Liverpool take on Union Saint-Gilloise with Manchester United on the horizon.

Are Liverpool likely to get involved in the January transfer window? Who if so? Why if not?

LEWIS STEELE: Liverpool are always weighing up their options but as it stands it looks more unlikely than likely.

There was talk of a deal for Fluminense midfielder Andre Trindade after interest in the summer but that has slowly faded away.

They are watching a number of defenders given the injury to Joel Matip but won’t rush into a decision. If there are any short-term options available – perhaps a loan or experienced professional on a cheap – they could explore that, but again this is just something that has been considered. We should know more in the next fortnight.

LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 09: (THE SUN OUT. THE SUN ON SUNDAY OUT) Jurgen Klopp manager of Liverpool with Trent Alexander-Arnold of Liverpool during the Premier League match between Crystal Palace and Liverpool FC at Selhurst Park on December 09, 2023 in London, England. (Photo by John Powell/Liverpool FC via Getty Images)

What will make a good festive period for the Reds?

LEWIS STEELE: Three big home matches start on Sunday against Manchester United. They then host Arsenal on December 23 and also have Newcastle in town on New Year’s Day. There’s a trip to Burnley in between that, too.

So if they get through those three home games with their 100 per cent home record still intact, I genuinely think we can start talking them up not just as title candidates but title favourites.

That’s easier said than done, mind, but I’d have Liverpool as favourites in each of those individual games.

Burnley away on Boxing Day won’t be as easy as it looks, especially with former Manchester City captain Vincent Kompany fighting for his future. Don’t forget that there’s also a Carabao Cup quarter-final coming up next week against West Ham, too.

Keeping in the title hunt and booking a semi-final will be top of Jurgen Klopp’s Christmas list.

Liverpool goalkeeper Alisson Becker and manager Jurgen Klopp during a training session at the AXA Training Centre, Liverpool. Picture date: Wednesday December 13, 2023. PA Photo. See PA story SOCCER Liverpool. Photo credit should read: Peter Byrne/PA Wire.RESTRICTIONS: Use subject to restrictions. Editorial use only, no commercial use without prior consent from rights holder.

Who will play at left back?

LEWIS STEELE: When Andy Robertson first got injured and Kostas Tsimikas started to fill in, I thought that the Greek was not up to standard and it could be a big problem for Liverpool.

He made a couple of early mistakes in those first matches, and Joe Gomez was also tried at left-back. But since then, Tsimikas has deputised admirably.

He is a threat going forward and has improved defensively, too. So the Greek international will play on Sunday.

Good news for Reds fans, though – Robertson is back on the grass (running work only and not contact training) and is on track to return next month as planned.

Liverpool's Greek defender #21 Kostas Tsimikas controls the ball during the English Premier League football match between Crystal Palace and Liverpool at Selhurst Park in south London on December 9, 2023. (Photo by Adrian DENNIS / AFP) / 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 120 images. An additional 40 images may be used in extra time. No video emulation. Social media in-match use limited to 120 images. An additional 40 images may be used in extra time. No use in betting publications, games or single club/league/player publications. /  (Photo by ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP via Getty Images)

Will it be another mauling, surely not another 7-0?

LEWIS STEELE: Liverpool have won every single match at Anfield this season, are top of the Premier League and will have a fully-rested team after fielding a back-up XI on Thursday. So all the odds are stacked heavily against Manchester United.

I have a weird feeling that it won’t be as easy as some people predict, but the Reds should beat United easily. If they did, you’d fear for Erik ten Hag. 7-0? Maybe not. Easy win? Probably.

Who do you think Klopp will play in attack against bitter rivals Man United on Sunday?

LEWIS STEELE: Mohamed Salah and Luis Diaz will play. I suppose the only 50-50 is whether Darwin Nunez will keep his place or not after a bit of a goal drought for the Uruguayan.

Cody Gakpo has played well since recovering from his knee injury – he was instrumental off the bench in the 4-3 win over Fulham and scored a brace against LASK Linz at Anfield a few days before that.

Gakpo also has form for scoring against Manchester United, which will not necessarily influence Klopp’s selection but it is worth noting.

Another thing that works in Gakpo’s favour is his willingness to drop into deeper areas and impact overall play, akin to Harry Kane for Bayern Munich on Tuesday, which caused United all sorts of problems. I suspect we will be able to guess who will play up front on Sunday based on who doesn’t play in Brussels.

SHEFFIELD, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 06: (THE SUN OUT, THE SUN ON SUNDAY OUT) Cody Gakpo of Liverpool in action during the Premier League match between Sheffield United and Liverpool FC at Bramall Lane on December 06, 2023 in Sheffield, England. (Photo by John Powell/Liverpool FC via Getty Images)

What’s been going on at the club this week? What can you tell us?

LEWIS STEELE: Liverpool’s recruitment team were set to sit down early this week to discuss how to approach the transfer strategy in terms of defenders after Joel Matip’s ruptured ACL injury that has ruled him out of the rest of the season.

They have not ruled out a short-term, cheaper option in January to help bolster the defensive options which currently stand at Virgil van Dijk, Ibou Konate, Jarell Quansah and Joe Gomez (though the latter is also the back-up right-back).

But January business still would appear to be unlikely, as per Jurgen Klopp’s comments last week.

FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football - Premier League - Liverpool v Fulham - Anfield, Liverpool, Britain - December 3, 2023 Liverpool's Joel Matip receives medical attention after sustaining an injury REUTERS/Phil Noble NO USE WITH UNAUTHORIZED AUDIO, VIDEO, DATA, FIXTURE LISTS, CLUB/LEAGUE LOGOS OR 'LIVE' SERVICES. ONLINE IN-MATCH USE LIMITED TO 45 IMAGES, NO VIDEO EMULATION. NO USE IN BETTING, GAMES OR SINGLE CLUB/LEAGUE/PLAYER PUBLICATIONS./File Photo

The Reds were likely to target a centre-back in the summer regardless of Matip’s injury but this could accelerate their need.

It is understood that what happens in the Champions League this week could be a factor, with some cut-price deals becoming available if teams drop out of Europe’s premier competition.

As it stands, though, no deals for defenders are any more than names being discussed among Liverpool’s recruitment team.

What’s the latest on Thiago after his latest social media post?

LEWIS STEELE: The fitness of Thiago Alcantara has been the biggest mystery of 2023.

Jurgen Klopp said in late October to ‘ask me in a month’ when a reporter questioned him on Thiago. So I did just that about a fortnight ago and got little in terms of an answer.

I think that his long-term lay-off has baffled everyone but there would appear to be light at the end of the tunnel.

We will know more in the next 24 hours on a timescale for Thiago’s return.

How good is Jarell Quansah?

LEWIS STEELE: Good enough to save Liverpool towards £100million.

Calm on the ball, commanding in a defensive sense and positionally aware with a good burst of pace.

I asked Jurgen Klopp a few weeks ago whether he was surprised at Quansah’s developments this season – as I certainly was! – and he agreed.

He has been learning from Virgil van Dijk and has also benefited from playing for England Under 21s alongside his Merseyside rival Jarrad Branthwaite, another defender in these parts that could go right to the top.

Warrington-born Quansah has been at Liverpool since the age of five and could be another local lad to become a mainstay in their side. Quansah could be the one that tempts Liverpool away from spending big bucks on a defender next summer.

Liverpool's Jarell Quansah during the Premier League match at Selhurst Park, London. Picture date: Saturday December 9, 2023. PA Photo. See PA story SOCCER Palace. Photo credit should read: Adam Davy/PA Wire.RESTRICTIONS: EDITORIAL USE ONLY No use with unauthorised audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or "live" services. Online in-match use limited to 120 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club/league/player publications.

Who should we have our eyes on in particular out of the kids and why?

LEWIS STEELE: I could answer this one in two words: Ben Doak.

The Scottish winger has been described as a ‘Tasmanian devil’ by Virgil van Dijk and you can see why. He buzzes around the pitch and seems to love playing football.

He is a direct winger and is good fun to watch. I was at a Under 21s match that he featured in last week and he was by far Liverpool’s best player. As I mentioned in the above answer, Kaide Gordon is also one to watch.

He became Liverpool’s youngest-ever FA Cup goal-scorer against Shrewsbury in early 2022, and then made his Premier League debut the following week against Brentford. He has had multiple setbacks since then, though. It will be good if he gets a chance to get back on the pitch.

BRADFORD, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 05: Ben Doak of Liverpool is challenged by Harry Lewis of Bradford City during the Bristol Street Motors Trophy match between Bradford City and  Liverpool U21 at University of Bradford Stadium on December 05, 2023 in Bradford, England. (Photo by George Wood/Getty Images)

What team is Jurgen Klopp likely to play tomorrow?

LEWIS STEELE: I posted a picture on social media of the Eurostar train I was boarding to Brussels this morning and one Liverpool fan replied, ‘You might get a game!’. So I think that sums up the general feeling around what sort of team Jurgen Klopp will put out on Thursday.

Because of UEFA rules around squad registration, the Reds won’t be able to name a full squad full of 14-year-olds.

There will be chances for the youngsters and fringe players that have impressed around the club this season, though – and there are lots of them.

Caoimhin Kelleher will play in goal. We will likely see Ben Doak on the wing, and hopefully minutes for fellow forward Kaide Gordon, who was so highly-rated in early 2022 before a series of lengthy injuries.

Midfielder James McConnell and left-back Luke Chambers are also set for game-time, while there are a few other Under 21s players vying for minutes. Conor Bradley is one of those, the Northern Irishman who was tipped to play a big role in Liverpool’s squad this season but has so far been hampered by a stress fracture in his back suffered midway through pre-season.

It won’t be a complete academy XI, though, with Klopp bound to give starts to fringe players such as Joe Gomez, Wataru Endo and Co.

Liverpool are Premier League leaders

Things could not be much sweeter for Liverpool right now.

Here’s a look at how Jurgen Klopp’s table toppers sit after 16 games…

Still time to get your Liverpool questions in!

Reply to the post below over on X to get your questions in for Lewis… we’ll start with the first one at 1pm

Speaking of club greats, Liverpool did not pass up the opportunity to mark Mohamed Salah’s 200th goal for the club last weekend.

A day to celebrate a Liverpool great

We’ll be getting into the nitty gritty of the current crop shortly with Lewis but in terms of Liverpool’s history, one of their all-time greats kickstarted his glorious career at Anfield on this day back in 1980.

Let’s start with a bit of positive news concerning Argentine midfielder Alexis Mac Allister.

Safe to say it is not as bad as many had first feared.

Liverpool Q&A time

Hello and welcome to today’s Liverpool Q&A.

It’s always a good day for Liverpool fans when they find bitter rivals Manchester United in disarray.

And best of all, they can compound United’s misery when the two sides meet at Anfield on Sunday.

Our Merseyside reporter Lewis Steele will be on hand to answer your questions from 1pm.

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