Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp will have three big decisions to make ahead of his side’s Champions League opener against Napoli on Wednesday night. The Reds reached the final of the European competition last season but have suffered a slow start to the new Premier League campaign and have won just two of their first six matches.
Liverpool were held to a goalless draw by Everton on Saturday as they ended the weekend in seventh place in the top-flight. The Merseyside giants had recorded back-to-back wins after thrashing Bournemouth 9-0 before getting the better of Newcastle in a 2-1 victory. But before that, they had been held to draws with Fulham and Crystal Palace, before being condemned to a 2-1 defeat by Manchester United.
Klopp will now be hoping his players can put their early-season form to the back of their minds and focus their attentions on their trip to Naples. The Reds won all six of their Champions League group stage matches on their way to the final last time around. And Express Sport takes a look at the selection decisions that Klopp will have on his mind.
Should Darwin Nunez keep his place?
Darwin Nunez bagged a goal and an assist on his Premier League debut last month as he came off the bench to rescue a point against Fulham. But he was sent off in his second match after headbutting Crystal Palace defender Joachim Andersen and missed the next three encounters.
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Nunez returned from suspension at the weekend and was named in the starting line-up as the Reds went in search of victory at Goodison Park. But he failed to find the back of the net as his side were frustrated in front of goal. Roberto Firmino, meanwhile, racked up three goals and three assists in Nunez’s absence. So the Brazil forward could fancy his chances of being handed a start after being relegated to the bench last time out. And Diogo Jota will also be desperate for an appearance from the off.
Jordan Henderson’s replacement
Jordan Henderson was forced off during his side’s clash with Newcastle last week after injuring his hamstring and subsequently missed the trip to Goodison Park as Fabio Carvalho took his place. But Thiago, who has been out of action since the opening weekend of the campaign, is back in training and could return to the starting line-up if Klopp deems him to be fit enough.
The Reds manager could, however, decide to thrust Arthur into his team against Napoli instead of Thiago or Carvalho. The Brazil international joined the Merseyside giants from Juventus on transfer deadline day but didn’t make it onto the pitch at the weekend.
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Joel Matip or Joe Gomez?
Klopp’s final decision will see him choose between Joel Matip and Joe Gomez at the heart of his defence. Matip completed the full 90 minutes at Craven Cottage on the opening weekend of the season but missed the four subsequent games through injury.
He returned to action four days ago as he came on for the last 10 minutes against the Toffees. And Klopp will have to think long and hard about whether he thrusts the Cameroon international back into the team at the expense of Gomez. Gomez has started four matches alongside Virgil van Dijk this season. But he’s looked unconvincing at times and could now face the chop.
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