With the highly anticipated Merseyside derby approaching, team selections are just one of a number of things on the lips of supporters from both sides of the county. The blue half of it, however, have a much more settled line-up than the red half, so all eyes are on Jurgen Klopp…
Well, if Wednesday night’s Champions League loss is anything to go by, Klopp must make sure he selects the right midfield options to suit what he wants to do in the game and combat what his opponents will attempt to do.
The former Borussia Dortmund boss was arguably guilty of choosing the wrong midfield against the Ligue 1 champions at the Parc des Princes. He opted for a midfield trio of Jordan Henderson, James Milner and Gini Wijnaldum, against a vastly differing duo of Marquinhos – a centre-back by trade – and Marco Verratti.
PSG’s midfield pair are better in their defensive acts rather than their offensive ones, which should have encouraged Klopp to start Xherdan Shaqiri and Naby Keita in an attempt to pin them back and nullify their attempts to gain a stranglehold on the game.
In all honesty, Klopp should scrap the entire midfield trio that started in Paris for the Merseyside derby. They were overran, ill-disciplined, and simply outclassed. The qualities of Milner, Henderson and Wijnaldum should not be underestimated, for they can prove useful in the right type of game however, but Everton’s midfield will be technically similar to PSG’s.
Idrissa Gueye and Andre Gomes will provide a slightly similar challenge to that of Verratti and Marquinhos. The Senegalese international is a midfield destroyer who will hunt the ball down relentlessly, whilst Gomes will compliment that with his composure and ability on the ball.
Fabinho needs to start just in front of the defence, in order to block out the Portuguese midfielder’s attempts to play the killer ball. Additionally, Gylfi Sigurdsson is a known threat from an attacking midfield role; it is pivotal that the Icelandic international isn’t allowed to receive the ball inbetween the lines.
Playmaker FC Exclusive: Jermaine Jenas makes bold prediction for North London Derby – Check out the video below…
Ahead of the Brazilian, Keita should be given the chance to truly kickstart his Liverpool career. Gueye is arguably the best interceptor in the league alongside N’Golo Kante, so a player such as the Guinean, one who is not adverse to carrying the ball forward with his expert dribbling skills, will be necessary in luring the Toffees out of their shape somewhat and creating gaps for the forwards.
As aforementioned, however, Gueye is an excellent reader of the play and tops the Premier League tackling ranks so far this season, so he could easily nullify Keita to some extent.
Klopp must be bold and mirror the former RB Leipzig’s skills by deploying a similar ball-carrier alongside him in Shaqiri. The Swiss star is penetrative, incisive and a quick thinker; if Keita fails to disorganise Marco Silva’s set-up, Shaqiri should punch the ball between the lines enough times to make some sort of incision throughout the game.