Liverpool

Nunez benched, Klopp unleashes academy “monster” in 4 changes: Predicted Liverpool XI v Sheff U

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Nunez benched, Klopp unleashes academy “monster” in 4 changes: Predicted Liverpool XI v Sheff U

 

 

Top meets bottom in this crucial Premier League clash on Thursday evening.

 

Many eyes are understandably already on Liverpool’s trip to Old Trafford to meet Manchester United on Sunday but Jurgen Klopp’s side must first ensure victory over Sheffield United in the Premier League tomorrow evening.

 

The Blades are marooned at the bottom of the table and have been luckless on their return to the big time, albeit there’s no argument that they have been abysmal defensively and will bear the worst defensive record in Premier League history should they ship 13 more goals across their nine remaining fixtures.

 

First-placed Liverpool have created the most big chances in the division this term with 77 and one would judge that the hosts’ firepower would prove too big a hurdle for Chris Wilder’s team, but stranger things have happened.

 

Alisson Becker, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Diogo Jota all remain sidelined but Curtis Jones is likely to be involved in some capacity and Andy Robertson has overcome the issue sustained on international duty.

 

With the key showdown against the Red Devils coming days later, Klopp might make four changes to the team that defeated Brighton & Hove Albion to return to the league summit last time out.

 

 

GK – Caoimhin Kelleher

Alisson should return between the sticks this month but not just yet. Still, Caoimhin Kelleher has hardly been poor in his absence, has he?

 

The Irishman’s commanding displays have been vital for Liverpool over the past several months and he will have more than a few suitors lurking around during the summer.

 

RB – Joe Gomez

Conor Bradley’s been described as “one of the biggest revelations of 23/24” by talent scout Jacek Kulig but he will return to the bench tomorrow, rested ahead of the showing at the Theatre.

A bit of a positional nomad this season, Joe Gomez should slot back into his natural position, and he should be well up for the occasion against the Blades.

 

CB – Jarell Quansah

Jarell Quansah started against the Seagulls and he will retain his spot tomorrow evening, with Ibrahima Konate likely spared ahead of the weekend’s meeting.

 

Hailed as an “absolute monster” by Kulig for his FA Cup performance against Arsenal, the 21-year-old academy talent has been sublime this term and looks fit for purpose for years to come.

 

CB – Virgil van Dijk

He’s played a lot of football this season but Liverpool’s captain will command from the rearguard once again. Virgil van Dijk has been sensational this season and if the Merseysiders do clinch the Premier League title, he will have possibly played the most important part.

 

 

He’ll be confident in blunting the opponents’ blade at Anfield tomorrow.

 

 

LB – Andy Robertson

Robertson missed out against Brighton but he is in contention to return against Sheffield United as he continues his bid to rekindle his former fluency down the left channel.

 

It’s been a stuttering season for the Scotland captain but he should find ample opportunity to project his creativity onto his attacking peers tomorrow.

DM – Wataru Endo

 

He’s just great, isn’t he? Wataru Endo will anchor the Liverpool midfield across both forthcoming Premier League fixtures and he will do so with diligence and conviction.

 

A tough-tackling, assured presence in the centre of the park, Endo is so important and allows the flair-fuelled peers ahead of him to strut their stuff with confidence.

 

CM – Alexis Mac Allister

 

We’re running out of superlatives for Alexis Mac Allister, who produced the magnum opus of his Liverpool career (so far) against his former outfit on Sunday, simply mesmeric in his creative and controlling display.

 

 

As per FBref, the 2022 World Cup winner ranks among the top 5% of midfielders across Europe’s top five leagues over the past year for assists, the top 10% for shot-creating actions, the top 16% for passes attempted, the top 17% for progressive passes, the top 19% for tackles and the top 2% for blocks per 90.

 

CM – Ryan Gravenberch

 

It’s been a campaign of promise for Ryan Graveberch, yes, but it’s also been a season in which the talented 21-year-old’s deficiencies have been discernible.

 

Still, Gravenberch is elegant and silky on the ball, with impressive playmaking ability and sharp intelligence. He needs to mesh it all together and he will have a great chance to do just that against United.

 

 

RW – Mohamed Salah

 

Is there any question about who will perch on the right flank of Liverpool’s frontline? Mohamed Salah has been as brilliant as ever in front of goal and boasts a return of 22 goals and 13 assists from 33 matches in all competitions.

 

Interestingly, he’s scored just one goal from five matches against the forthcoming opposition, yet to assist a teammate.

 

LW – Luis Diaz

 

Luis Diaz is an indefatigable machine on that left flank for Klopp’s side and it’s hard to imagine he won’t inflict a spate of problems on Sheffield United.

 

As per Sofascore, the Colombian has scored seven goals and supplied three assists from 23 starting appearances in the Premier League this term, completing 85% of his passes and averaging 1.3 key passes, 1.6 dribbles, 3.5 ball recoveries and 4.4 successful duels per game.

 

CF – Cody Gakpo

 

Cody Gakpo should find his name on the starting team sheet for this one and it does have a feel of importance about it. The Netherlands international has been comparatively prolific this season but his overall displays have left fans wanting.

 

With Darwin Nunez likely to be benched in preparation for Sunday, Gakpo simply has to take his chance and prove to Klopp that he can play a big part over the crucial closing weeks of the campaign.

 

Predicted Liverpool line-up in full vs Sheffield United: (GK) Caoimhin Kelleher; (RB) Joe Gomez, (CB) Jarell Quansah, (CB) Virgil van Dijk, (LB) Andy Robertson; (DM) Wataru Endo, (CM) Alexis Mac Allister, (CM) Ryan Gravenberch; (RW) Mohamed Salah, (LW) Luis Diaz, (CF) Cody Gakpo.

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