Liverpool consider Naby Keita’s role as Jurgen Klopp faces Diogo Jota’s dilemma
Not long now, folks. Only 12 more days and the real things will kick in again for Liverpool.
the reds They begin their bid to reclaim the Premier League title when they make the long trip to Norwich City on Saturday week.
As it stands, it’s not bad that the last time Liverpool faced the Canary Islands in their opening weekend, they won their first club championship in 30 years.
Jürgen Klopp The team moved to Evian in the final stage of their pre-season training camp, which concludes with two 60-minute friendlies against Bologna on Thursday.
And while there is still a double header at Anfield against Athletic Bilbao, and the next, Osasuna is coming up, some clues have already emerged as to who Klopp could be heading for at Carrow Road.
Every change in the heart of the defense
Undisputed number one Alisson Becker is preparing to line up in goal ahead of Kawimhen Keeler, regardless of joining the squad only this weekend.
But if Trent Alexander-Arnold is emphatic at right-back having bounced back from the thigh injury that forced him to miss Euro 2020, things aren’t so clear elsewhere in defence.
Costas Tsimikas has shown encouraging signs at left-back in recent friendlies although Andy Robertson, despite his late return to training, is more likely.
Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez are still a few weeks away from being serious contenders for a key role after only returning to the field on Thursday.
It has become clear that the £36m signing of Ibrahim Konate and the right-back, Joel Matip, is the centre-back’s preferred partnership ahead of Nat Phillips and Reese Williams.
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The open nature of Liverpool’s 4-3 friendly defeat to Hertha Berlin last Thursday underlined that with Fabinho and Jordan Henderson absent and Jenny Wijnaldum absent, there is a lack of defensive midfield cover.
James Milner can do something, but maybe he’s best beside another deep midfielder and not alone.
While Henderson is unlikely to start in Norwich – he will return to training later this week – Fabinho, who returned on Sunday, may be pushed into relatively immediate action.
Whoever joins him in the engine room is a big call.
Naby Keita has shown promising signs and, for the time being, may be in the box seat. However, while Harvey Elliott has also started in midfield, it would be surprising if the 18-year-old made his Premier League debut.
Alternatively, a lot could depend on Thiago Alcantara’s fitness as Curtis Jones and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain find themselves playing during the last few friendlies.
What does bobby?
In attack, both Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane during pre-season showed the much-needed benefit of the summer break.
But Roberto Firmino has been difficult for Brazil, and like Alisson and Fabinho, he will only resume training on Monday.
Diogo Jota’s lively cameo against Hertha Berlin suggests he has no sharpness issues, although Oxlade-Chamberlain notably started his last two warm-up matches in the ninth round.
Predicted Liverpool line-up against Norwich: Alison. Alexander-Arnold, Matip; Konate, Robertson; Fabinho, Milner, Keita; Salah, Jota, Mane.
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