One yr in the past, the 2022 World Cup in Qatar served as a welcome break for Liverpool supervisor Jurgen Klopp as he assessed the quandary that his marketing campaign had morphed into.
What had went fallacious? Why had Liverpool fallen off a proverbial cliff? To say that the Anfield facet had been a shadow of their former selves would insinuate a squad lower of the identical form, however Liverpool had been mangled and contorted and had been unrecognisable from the workforce that mere months earlier than had come inside a whisker of an unprecedented Quadruple.
The Reds did not fairly return to type regardless of a late-season purple patch that painted sensible color again into Klopp’s system, and the summer season switch work in refitting the engine room with shiny new signings has labored wonders: the Reds prime the Premier League desk after 16 matches.
However final yr’s points closed the door on Champions League qualification, and whereas the return to the Europa League after seven years was poignant, Liverpool are righting their wrongs and have topped Group E with a match to spare.
Now, Klopp has the luxurious to concern heavy rotation forward of his workforce’s last group fixture in opposition to Union Saint-Gilloise in Belgium, with an important few weeks of festive soccer forward on the home scene.
Liverpool workforce information vs USG
Mohamed Salah, Alisson Becker, Virgil van Dijk and Trent Alexander-Arnold have all remained on Merseyside as Klopp determined to relaxation a number of gamers for the journey to USG, with Alexis Mac Allister additionally sidelined as he recovers from a knee stamp.
The German supervisor has already confirmed that he’ll make a number of adjustments to the beginning line-up within the dead-rubber contest, with forthcoming Premier League matches in opposition to Manchester United and Arsenal sandwiching a Carabao Cup quarter-final tie in opposition to West Ham United in midweek.
Spanish midfielders Thiago Alcantara and Stefan Bajcetic stay long-term absentees, whereas Joel Matip is out for the season after rupturing his ACL and Andy Robertson continues his rehabilitation following shoulder surgical procedure in October; Diogo Jota is nearing a return however is not going to be risked on the Stade Joseph Marian.
Why Elliott and Quansah should begin vs USG
Harvey Elliott scored the winner as toiling Liverpool discovered a solution to win in opposition to Crystal Palace on Sunday afternoon, firing residence within the ninetieth minute to ship the travelling help right into a crimson sea of rapture.
The artistic midfielder, aged 20, is a particular expertise and has been a priceless member of Klopp’s facet over the previous few years, however lately remarked that he needs to shrug off the moniker of ‘Tremendous Sub’, and as a substitute begin to wedge his manner into the beginning line-up with regularity.
Elliott has made 20 appearances this season and performed each minute of Liverpool’s Europa League marketing campaign, however has solely began as soon as within the Premier League and was hooked at half-time on that outing (in opposition to Brighton & Hove Albion).
Regardless of this, he has scored as soon as and equipped two assists within the English top-flight and obtained reward for “visionary” distribution by TNT Sports activities’ commentator Ian Darke, rating among the many prime 3% of midfielders throughout Europe’s prime 5 leagues over the previous yr for progressive passes and the highest 9% for shot-creating actions per 90, as per FBref.
He is important and presents one thing that maybe none of his Liverpool confreres can fairly replicate: a breezy and progressive presence blended with fixed creativity.
Harvey Elliott: Related Gamers
Alexis Mac Allister
*Sourced by way of FBref
He has to begin, very similar to his defensive peer Jarell Quansah, additionally aged 20, who has excelled in breaking into the senior set-up this time period after spending the latter half of the 2022/23 marketing campaign on mortgage with League One facet Bristol Rovers.
Described as “completely phenomenal” by Alexander-Arnold, Quansah has chalked up 11 shows for Liverpool and has impressed along with his composed and commanding performances within the central defence.
Whereas Matip’s season is now over, Ibrahima Konate stays the No. 1 choice to accomplice captain Van Dijk in entrance of Alisson’s purpose, however the 6 foot 5 titan has demonstrated his value over his shows up to now, having began twice within the Premier League and secured three factors on each events – away to Wolverhampton Wanderers and Palace.
He additionally ranks among the many prime 16% of positional friends for shot-creating actions, the highest 7% for cross completion, the highest 135 for progressive carries and the highest 8% for profitable take-ons per 90, highlighting the trendy set of abilities that make him an ideal match to succeed a participant corresponding to Matip in Klopp’s workforce.
Each gamers earn common spots within the matchday squad and will likely be desperate to benefit from the upcoming tie to additional stake their declare to elevated duty.
Not the one gamers who ought to obtain a beginning berth in Belgium, left-back Luke Chambers has the proper alternative to actually make himself identified to Klopp after making his debut a number of months in the past.
Why Luke Chambers should begin
Chambers is barely 19 years previous however has taken benefit of Robertson’s ongoing damage to earn his first begin for Liverpool earlier within the marketing campaign, enjoying 67 minutes as his facet dismantled Toulouse 5-1 within the Europa League.
With Kostas Tsimikas the primary man at left-back in Robertson’s absence, it is likely to be smart to present the Greek ace a break and entrust Chambers with a second position from the outset, having loved a breakthrough mortgage stint with Kilmarnock within the Scottish Premiership final season.
Kilmarnock supervisor Derek McInnes famous his “excellent” shows in Scotland final season and praised his maturity, having averaged one key cross per recreation whereas profitable 62% of his floor duels – showcasing his versatility.
Additionally described as a “diamond” by McInnes, Chambers may also play as a centre-half and will use his defensive expertise to supply a sturdy show to actually underline his potential to Klopp, who will nonetheless really feel that he wants convincing earlier than integrating the participant into common senior motion.
However with such an necessary week up forward, Liverpool should not take any extra dangers than essential within the Europa League, and there’s completely no purpose why Chambers shouldn’t be supplied the chance to observe in Elliott and Quansah’s footsteps and use the useless rubber state of affairs to rise to the fore.