Liverpool have been handed a devastating injury blow ahead of Thursday’s rearranged crunch match with Manchester United…
According to the ever-reliable James Pearce at The Athletic, Reds centre-back Ozan Kabak is “unlikely to recover” from a muscle problem in time to feature against the Europa League finalists.
The 21-year-old, on loan from Schalke 04, had started their last five Premier League outings before missing Saturday’s 2-0 win over Southampton.
Jurgen Klopp revealed the reason behind his surprise absence to Sky Sports before kick-off, he said (via the club’s official website):
“With Ozan, we don’t know exactly, we have to wait and see a little bit. It’s a muscle thing, it happened without any real intensity but still serious enough for not being involved.”
Pearce also claims that the German boss “may have to play Fabinho alongside [Nat] Phillips,” as a result of this latest setback.
Rhys Williams played at centre-back against Southampton on Saturday night and had one or two very nervy moments. Also, when he last visited Old Trafford, he was given a torrid time as United knocked the Reds out of the FA Cup, so it’s easy to see why Klopp would be hesitent to select him at the same venue later this week.
Liverpool are still firmly in the race for a top-four finish, especially as the bulk of the results went their way over the weekend, with West Ham losing to Everton.
A win over their arch-rivals would see them leapfrog the Hammers into fifth and would then subsequently put the pressure on Leicester City, who play United on Tuesday and who also lost over the weekend.
Klopp’s chances of picking up a result with Fabinho at the back are a lot worse than if he were in midfield, though. He has frequently filled in during the absences of Virgil van Dijk, Joe Gomez and Joel Matip.
Since the turn of the year, when the Brazilian powerhouse has been deployed in his natural role, Liverpool have won five, drawn one and lost just once but when playing at centre-back, that changes vastly with just one win, three draws and five losses, as per Transfermarkt.
That’s a win rate of 71% in midfield, and that decreases drastically to 12.5% with him filling the void defensively.
So understandably, Klopp may well be rather furious that his injury troubles continue to hinder his side’s campaign.
Furthermore, the Reds didn’t lose any of those five matches with Kabak starting, so it’s certainly one huge blow ahead of what looks like a must-win encounter.
AND in other news, Reds handed boost in race to sign “massive” 23-year old gem, Edwards must act…