By Ritchie Slack (@Slack_9)
Off the back of an impressive away win in Amsterdam in the Champions League, Liverpool are back on home soil and face Chris Wilder’s Sheffield United on Saturday evening.
Both Klopp and Wilder will be without some of their biggest names – Virgil Van Dijk included – but the Reds boss provided fans and his team a boost declaring that Sadio Mane will be fit for the game after struggling with a dead leg in the week.
Liverpool, of course, remain without Van Dijk, but with Fabinho instantly taking to his new centre back role and channelling his ‘inner Maldini’, perhaps things aren’t as gloomy as they seem – so long as Fabinho, Joe Gomez and Joel Matip stay fit.
Matip faces a late fitness test after missing the 1-0 win against Ajax, so expect a Fabinho-Gomez pairing in front of Adrian in net.
Positive team news after a tough week (i.e. VVD)
- First choice goalkeeper Alisson Becker remains a doubt, but today Jurgen Klopp indicated that the Brazillian isn’t too far away from a making a return: “I don’t want to rule anyone out until someone tells me, and so far, nobody told me. He (Alisson) is in training and whether he makes an appearance this weekend, we will have to wait and see…”
- During the midweek clash, the front three were afforded the luxury of a rare thirty minute break after Klopp decided to make a triple substitution on the hour mark. Another bonus was the return of Xherdan Shaqiri, with his craft and industry highly sought after within the Liverpool squad.
- Thiago Alcantara is also “in contention“, following Richarlison’s horror tackle in the contentious Merseyside derby draw last weekend.
- Naby Keita is expected to be fit to bolster the ranks further.
- Kostas Tsimikas, however, will not return to the matchday squad this week (or next), but is “close to returning“, according to Klopp.
Sheffield United’s young, rather familiar threat
Wilder’s United face injuries of their own, with the Sheffield United boss claiming that the loss of Jack O’Connell, John Fleck and Lys Mousset is “a bigger blow” than the absence of Van Dijk is for Liverpool. Max Lowe could return after being forced off last weekend with a concussion,
Former Liverpool man Rhian Brewster could be handed his full debut at the ground he knows so well – very well in fact – perhaps feeling he has a point to prove to the Liverpool brass after they let go of the youngster only last month. The Blades have only scored twice in their five league games this season, so it would be an ideal time for the youngster to make an impression and bag a goal (or two).
Whilst Liverpool fans in the UK will have to pay a hefty price – £14.95 – for the pleasure of viewing the game on Sky Sports Box Office, win at all costs will surely be Klopp’s message. The Reds have not won a domestic fixture since they beat Arsenal 3-1 at end of September.