Liverpool travel to the Etihad Stadium on Saturday as they take on league leaders Manchester City. Klopp’s arrival has certainly brought in the much needed positivity. However, it mustn’t be forgotten that the Reds are in the 10th spot and need to start accumulating wins if they want to finish in the top 4. They face a City side that has done very well this season and are leading the table, albeit on goal difference.
Here are the three key questions for Jurgen Klopp.
Should Sturridge start the game?
Daniel Sturridge has spent a lot of time of the sidelines. He has however, declared himself fit to feature in this match. There are certain reports that indicate that Klopp wants the Englishman to start. The former City player can certainly add more threat to the Liverpool team. Despite Benteke doing decently since his arrival, Sturridge remains the best striking option for the Reds and it isn’t surprising to hear Klopp wanting to start the 26-year-old. He opens up the game more, he is pacier and has a terrific understanding with Philippe Coutinho. Against the City side that has been considerably tight at the back, Sturridge’s need could be felt.
However, Klopp must also keep his injury prone status in mind. Sturridge has not been able to recover and establish himself in the first team for almost a year now and this comeback needs to be more permanent. Therefore, rushing him back into the thick of things makes little sense.
Should Firmino start up-front or play on the wings?
Coutinho and Firmino both like playing centrally which means their threat is reduced when they’re asked to play wider. Firmino has done exceptionally well in recent weeks, and looks like he’s hitting the form that made Liverpool pay a hefty sum for him. Coutinho too, has been in form and has scored three goals in the last two Premier League games. Both the players will be required for the Reds to get a win at the Etihad stadium. Klopp might be tempted to start Firmino up-top, like he did against Chelsea. Benteke was brought on in the second half of the game. Klopp could also use two up-top and go with Firmino and Benteke.
Firmino is most effective in a central role from which he can drop wide as opposed to him starting on the wings and cutting inside. It wouldn’t be surprising to see Klopp go with the same approach that got him his first Premier League win.
James Milner and Emre Can? Who will remain in the first team after Henderson’s return?
James Milner’s form has dipped dramatically over the summer. The former Manchester City player did exceptionally over the last few seasons and getting him for free was described as a “coup” for Liverpool. However, Milner hasn’t done well in the central role he demanded. Once Jordan Henderson returns – expected next week – one of Milner or Emre Can will be reduced to a squad role.
Can at the moment, definitely represents the better choice to be a sure starter. He is younger, more aggressive and has adapted to his coach’s gegenpressing style very quickly. However, he had a poor game against Crystal Palace.
Which means that Klopp could look at this game to see which one of James Milner or Emre Can will Liverpool’s captain directly replace upon his arrival.