This article is part of Football FanCast’s The Chalkboard series, which provides a tactical insight into teams, players, managers, potential signings and more…
Liverpool face one of their toughest tests of the season so far against a high-flying Leicester side on Saturday, so what changes should Jurgen Klopp make from the win in midweek?
The Champions League scare against Red Bull Salzburg may have been the final confirmation to Klopp that Jordan Henderson is just not cutting it at the moment.
There is no doubt the former Sunderland man silenced all his doubters by lifting the greatest club trophy of them all last term, but he has now been taken off around the hour mark in each of his last two appearances.
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Fans slammed his performance on Wednesday as he completed no key passes, dribbles, tackles, interceptions or clearances (Whoscored), and we suspect he could drop to the bench as one of three changes on Saturday.
The back four pretty much picks itself after Klopp confirmed Joel Matip is still not ready to return during his pre-match press conference. And while Alisson is close to returning, it seems foolish to rush him back with a two-week break after this game.
Moving into midfield, Fabinho’s stunning consistency since breaking into the XI makes him pretty much un-droppable – the Brazil international has started six league games and both Champions League fixtures this term, forcing even rival fans to sit up and take notice.
Genuine question: since Fabinho has been properly integrated into the Liverpool team, has he dropped one sub-par display? I swear I’ve never seen him drop a performance less than a 7/10. His consistency is unbelievable.
— Patrick Timmons (@PatrickTimmons1) September 28, 2019
And that’s where things get interesting. James Milner’s introduction during the week steadied the ship for Klopp’s side, and the 33 year-old’s experience could be perfect against an in-form team like Leicester.
The other spot is then up for grabs, but Naby Keita’s return to action over the last couple of weeks seems perfectly timed with Henderson’s loss of form, and the Guinea international’s quick feet and eye for a forward pass could be useful here.
Finally, with Roberto Firmino set to travel to Brazil for international friendlies against Senegal and Nigeria over the break, we suspect Klopp will rest his mercurial number nine, rewarding Divock Origi for his game-changing impact at Bramall Lane last week.
This would see Sadio Mane shift into a central position, a role he has grabbed seven goals in nine appearances in as a Red, with Mohamed Salah keeping his place on the right flank.