Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp has some serious decisions to make ahead of this Friday’s FA Cup tie against Aston Villa.
The Premier League champions slipped to their second defeat of the league season on Monday night as they lost 1-0 to Southampton.
Due to injuries suffered by Joel Matip, Joe Gomez and Virgil van Dijk, Klopp was forced to play midfield duo Jordan Henderson and Fabinho at the back.
They clearly struggled with the change, with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Thiago both playing in the midfield and clearly not match-fit.
But for the trip to Villa Park on Friday night, Klopp could make a host of changes to provide some rest for some of his worn-out stars.
At the back, Klopp could likely take out Henderson and Fabinho in order to give Nat Phillips and Rhys Williams a run-out.
The Champions League and Premier League are clearly Liverpool’s two priorities, and with such a congested fixture schedule from now until the end of the season, Klopp will be wary of overexerting his players.
They’ve got crunch Premier League games against Manchester United and Tottenham – two games which could be vital in the title race – before the end of the month alone, before facing Manchester City at Anfield in early February.
In midfield, Curtis Jones will likely come in to provide some fresh legs, while Klopp will face a difficult decision with whether to stick with Thiago or give him a rest.
The Spaniard came in for his second start of the season against Southampton, but was clearly behind the pace due to his lack of game time.
Leighton Clarkson could be in line for a rare appearance having impressed in his surprise start against FC Midtjylland in Europe.
With a must-win clash against Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s title-contending United just a week after the cup tie, Klopp and his assistant Pep Ljinders will also have to be wary of the risk of injuries.
His front three have been poor in recent weeks, with the Reds having scored just once since their 7-0 demolition of Crystal Palace, and looked visibly fatigued against Southampton.
Divock Origi, who seems destined to leave this summer, and Takumi Minamino – who hasn’t featured since scoring against Palace – are set to be involved. Xherdan Shaqiri could also be involved having come on as a substitute against Southampton.