Liverpool will host Napoli in their final Champions League group stage clash at Anfield tonight, and Jurgen Klopp has his work cut out if his team are going to top the group in the final fixture.
Napoli extended their unbeaten run to 16 games in all competitions when they beat Sassuolo in the Serie A last weekend, and they currently top Group A in the prestigious European competition with Liverpool just behind them in second.
Both teams have qualified so the clash tonight on Merseyside will be considered a dead rubber for the most part, but there is still an opportunity for last year’s Champions League finalists to steal the top spot ahead of the round of 16 draw.
The Reds will need to win 4-0 under the Anfield lights this evening to top the group but it will be no easy challenge for Klopp’s side who have struggled for inconsistent form throughout the season so far.
Liverpool are currently ninth in the Premier League table following their second consecutive defeat on Saturday to Leeds United, though making some tweaks to the team that started at the weekend could make a huge difference tonight.
A player Klopp must finally ditch is Joe Gomez, as the defender has proven his inconsistency and has been error-prone in the backline ever since occupying the spot in Ibrahima Konate and Joel Matip’s absence.
The £85k-per-week dud – who was dubbed “terribly overrated” by Usman Ally – caused chaos with a huge mistake when he delivered an overhit back pass to Leeds forward Rodrigo in the fourth minute of the clash, which led to the opening goal against Liverpool.
These careless defensive errors have been the story of Liverpool’s season which has seen the Merseysiders concede first seven times in their 12 Premier League outings this season. Therefore, now that Konate is back in contention to start there is no reason why Gomez should be starting over the French centre-back.
Liverpool have only lost two games when Konate has made an appearance in the team with the 23-year-old defender tallying up a 77.42% win percentage over his 31 appearances for the Reds. Gomez, meanwhile, currently has a 65.38% win ratio over 156 appearances.
With that being said, it will be interesting to see how Klopp sets up his team tonight, whether he will rest players and settle for qualification in second place or go all guns blazing to steal the top spot.