Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp must consider which of his players warrants a place in his starting eleven following their torrid start to the season. The Reds were held to a 3-3 draw by Brighton at Anfield at the weekend, meaning that they sit in ninth place in the league after seven matches.
Klopp’s side have looked like a shadow of their former selves this season, with their performances lacking belief and players appearing unenthusiastic and out of sorts. Manchester City’s sensational start to the season means that they appear to already have a stranglehold on the Premier League – with Arsenal the likeliest, at this stage, to put up a fight.
Speaking after the Brighton draw, Klopp said: “The confidence level now is not extraordinarily high. In difficult moments like this, you have to fight so hard that step by step you get momentum and confidence back. We are under pressure, we don’t ignore that.”
With so many games remaining, there is time for the Reds to bounce back, though Klopp may be forced to make some drastic changes to his side if they are to improve – starting with his team selection. Express Sport looks at three candidates to be rested for upcoming matches against Rangers and Arsenal.
The most obvious candidate to be dropped by Klopp is Trent Alexander-Arnold, and the right-back may too be hoping that he can be taken out of the limelight. The England international is enduring an incredibly tricky spell where his lack of defensive attributes are becoming more and more exposed.
Brighton were keen to target the 23-year-old on Saturday and it bared fruit tactically, and other teams will certainly catch on. Alexander-Arnold’s hopes of being included in England’s World Cup squad are in the balance so perhaps a few games on the sidelines to clear his head could be the best option rather than Klopp pushing his defender to play through this bad spell, and consequenly allowing him to slip further down the pecking order in Gareth Southgate’s eyes.
Mohamed Salah has been one of the best players in the Premier League since his arrival from Roma in 2017, but so far this season he has ghosted through matches without truly having an impact. The Egyptian has scored two and assisted three so far this season, but that somewhat does justice to his displays.
Salah is a player that can produce a moment of magic when required, which may be why Klopp is sticking with the 30-year-old, but there are also alternatives waiting on the bench that equally can win games. Twelve months ago it would be obscene to say it but Klopp needs to heavily consider dropping Salah for the benefit of his overall team, as his ever-rotating frontline are playing like individuals rather than a united force.
With footage showing that Ibrahima Konate returned to Liverpool training last week, it may be the right time to rest Virgil van Dijk after his concerning start to the campaign. Previously, the Dutchman has oozed class in central defence but this season he has looked shaky and struggled.
Van Dijk has been relied upon to sniff out danger and engage with opposition forwards high up the pitch, but his confidence looks shot and he is allowing players to run off of him or breeze on by. Of course, it must be factored that Alexander-Arnold is not helping matters defensively, though the pair could have to shoulder equal blame for several poor showings.