Liverpool and Chelsea take on each other in the pick of clashes for this weekend. Reports of José Mourinho being shown the door if Chelsea lose only add more excitement to the match. Jürgen Klopp was respectful of both his counterpart as well as the Portuguese’s out-of-form team but he must realize that he can play a crucial part in Mourinho’s departure from the club, if not immediately, then in the near future, by beating the Blues.
Here are three key questions for the German boss.
Does out of form Philippe Coutinho start?
Philippe Coutinho has been acutely disappointing in recent weeks. The Brazilian is undeniably talented and is a match winner in terms of creating something wonderful out of nothing. However, he has not doing anything worthy of note to create any sort of attacking threat. The 23-year-old has a superb understanding with Daniel Sturridge and we might see Coutinho return to his lethal best once the England international makes a return from injury, but at the moment, the Brazilian is just not playing well enough to be a guaranteed starter.
Klopp could use him as an impact substitute and start two out of Roberto Firmino, Adam Lallana and Jordon Ibe instead. However, given Coutinho was rested midweek against Bournemouth, it is likely that the former Inter Milan player will start. Klopp and the Liverpool fans would hope he can recreate his form of last season and do something extraordinary in the game.
Do the star performers against Bournemouth get a chance in this game?
Liverpool’s fresh look team against Bournemouth, one comprising youngsters and second choice players apart from Firmino, Clyne and Benteke performed much better than the first team has in recent weeks. Joao Carlos Teixeira was phenomenal playing in attack and linked up very well in Roberto Firmino. Cameron Brannagan was influential in the midfield while Connor Randall did well in defence. Have these youngsters done enough to get some game time in this crucial tie?
Out of the three, Teixeira definitely looked at the level in which he could feature against the defending champions and do some damage. It is difficult to assume he will start the game, but his positive performance from Wednesday night might force Klopp to give him some minutes on the pitch in this tie.
Jordon Ibe, who has been out of touch this season, was also positive and effective in the Capital One Cup game. He adds width to the team and would feel he proved himself midweek to warrant a decent time on the pitch against Mourinho’s men. With Coutinho under-performing, Ibe could really be causing Klopp a dilemma.
How can he get one over ‘nice guy’ José Mourinho?
The two managers might have been very amicable in their press conferences, but both know the repercussions of an away win. Klopp has the rare opportunity of really leaving Mourinho hanging by a thread for his job. More importantly, the German is still looking for a first Premier League win and after the victory over Bournemouth, might think of this to be the perfect opportunity. It will be interesting to see how he sets the team up to get that. Does he continue with three players in the midfield to ensure Chelsea’s attacking threat is curbed. Does he adopt a more dangerous approach and start with three attackers behind Christian Benteke? Will Firmino play the entire 90 minutes after greatly impressing against the Cherries or will Lallana start alongside Coutinho?
There are plenty of questions for Klopp and hopefully for Liverpool fans, the answers their charismatic manager provides will yield a positive result on Saturday.