Liverpool maintained their unbeaten start to the season with a rollercoaster 3-2 victory over AC Milan on Wednesday night, but it wasn’t without a few surprises from Jurgen Klopp.
While Harvey Elliott had to drop out after suffering a dislocated ankle last weekend against Leeds United and was replaced in the Reds starting XI by Jordan Henderson, the German didn’t stop there as he made four changes to his side to face Il Rossoneri, with Virgil van Dijk, Thiago Alcantara and Sadio Mane also dropping out for Joe Gomez, Naby Keita and Divock Origi.
Considering the Dutchman only return from an ACL injury in the summer, perhaps it was not as big a surprise as it first appeared to see Klopp take no chances with the centre-back by putting him through two matches in four days.
But the fact that Origi came in for Mane, making his first start since January and first appearances since March, inevitably did cause raised eyebrows, no less because he had been expected to leave the club before the transfer window closed last month.
With Crystal Palace the visitors to Anfield on Saturday before a League Cup trip to Norwich City follows next Tuesday, Klopp’s team selection at Milan suggests further changes will follow as he looks to keep his side fresh.
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And with Origi’s return to the starting XI demonstrating you can’t rule out future team news curve balls, we take a look at the changes the Reds boss could make against the Eagles.
Van Dijk returns
The obvious one, Virgil van Dijk is more than likely to return against Palace after being left as an unused substitute against Milan, and is likely to partner Joel Matip should Klopp restore the centre-back partnership that has performed so well so far this season.
As such, Joe Gomez will drop out ahead of returning away at Norwich, in a game which could also hand Ibrahima Konate his Liverpool debut.
Meanwhile, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson retain their places at full-back ahead of getting the night off at Carrow Road.
Could we finally be about to see Klopp unleash a midfield trio of Fabinho, Thiago Alcantara and Jordan Henderson?
The Liverpool captain started as the Spaniard dropped out against Milan, with their roles reversed last weekend against Leeds United as the Reds boss managed their game-time following delayed returns to pre-season following their Euro 2020 exploits.
Harvey Elliott had been the man to benefit from such rotation, but with the teenager now sidelined through injury, the duo could both start alongside Fabinho in a rare example of Liverpool fielding their strongest midfield on paper.
Naby Keita did impress on his return to the starting XI against Milan, while Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, James Milner and Curtis Jones are also options, though, with the former three all starting the season opener against Norwich, it could be a case of their next starting run out again coming at Carrow Road.
Sadio starts and time for Taki
Again, it would be no surprise to see Sadio Mane return to the starting XI against Palace and not just because he’s scored more goals against them than any other side in his career, netting 12 times from 14 appearances.
Divock Origi would be the obvious man to drop out, though Klopp played down fears of injury after the Belgian limped off against Milan as he confirmed he was just suffering with cramp.
Mohamed Salah will keep his place, with his night off saved for League Cup duties against Norwich City, but Diogo Jota has endured a quiet couple of games which could open the door to a first start of the season for Takumi Minamino, having scored his first Premier League goal against Palace last year.
Meanwhile, Oxlade-Chamberlain and Jones are again alternatives, having both joined the action as substitutes for the front three on Wednesday night, while there remains no update on when Roberto Firmino will return from injury.
Potential Liverpool team (4-3-3): Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Matip, Van Dijk, Robertson; Henderson, Fabinho, Thiago; Salah, Minamino, Mane.Internet Explorer Channel Network