After a losing 4-1 to Man City (a second consecutive loss after losing to Bournemouth), Jürgen Klopp rested Mohamed Salah, Virgin Van Djik, and Trent Alexander-Arnold for Liverpool’s midweek match against Chelsea. Needing a win to keep fading hopes of a top-four finish but resting key players? Keeping key players fresh ahead of a match against Arsenal? Clearly, Klopp’s move is a conspiracy with one goal: to deny us the Prem title.
The reality is probably a bit more nuanced than that. Salah, after all, scored the opening goal against City only to disappear as Liverpool’s midfield was overrun and he wad deprived of service. What’s more likely, unfortunately for us, is that Klopp was simply resting him for this weekend’s match. It’s Ramadan, after all. He did eventually replace the ineffective Firmino at the 65th minute against Chelsea but should still feel fresh. With the chance of Saliba missing out as his back injury continues to nag, Zinchenko will have to be alert to the threat he poses.
As for Van Djik, the 31 year old didn’t even make the trip to London, staying home due to an unspecified illness. There’s been some chatter among the scousers that he was simply dropped due to poor form, but I don’t have time to follow up with any of them on Ye Ole Twitter. If it was simply poor form, I would think that Klopp would at least want him on the bench because his other options at CB are hardly intimidating. Matip? Konaté? Gomez? Jesus, Trossard, Saka, and Martinelli are probably salivating at the mere thought. Even when he’s not at his best—and he’s rarely been there ever since Pickford nearly sheared his leg off at the knee—he’s still vital to their defense. Let’s hope it is an illness that keeps him off the pitch.
As for Alexander-Arnold, one really hopes that he gets to start. Never the most-earnest defender in the universe, he’s looked particularly diffident and ineffective. His benching is likely the only one that’s clearly intended to signal any displeasure from Klopp. When he isn’t sending in crosses, he’s failing to mark his man, track runners, or commit to tackles. If Klopp does resort to starting him, expect however plays on our left wing (mosty likely Martinelli) to rinse him so thoroughly that he won’t need an actual shower for weeks.
Whatever Klopp is thinking, we have to assume that we’ll see the Liverpool that destroyed Man U 7-0. These last three matches, two losses and a draw, were away from Anfield. At home, we know Liverpool are a different beast. As long as we can prevent Tavares from conceding possession in our own defensive third (probability: high), Mané from running riot (probability: again, high) and Arteta from riling up the Kop (probability: ummm…), we should come away with a creditable draw or possibly, maybe even a famous win.
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