A 1-0 loss to Southampton in the first leg of the EFL Cup semi-final kept Jurgen Klopp and Liverpool winless in 2017. They now head to Old Trafford where Jose Mourinho and a red-hot Manchester United await. This rivalry match is hard enough in general but facing the Red Devils, who haven’t lost since November and are on a nine-match winning streak in all competitions, makes it an even more daunting task. Still, a win would give the Reds the momentum needed to continue their title push.
While Loris Karius played well in the loss against Southampton, Simon Mignolet seems like the league ‘keeper at least for the time being.
No matter who starts across from him, Nathaniel Clyne could have a rough afternoon. United have a plethora of wings who give any full-back some trouble.
Joel Matip may be in contention to play since he returned to training during the week but if not, Dejan Lovren and Ragnar Klavan will continue to start. They have the unenviable task of marking not only Zlatan Ibrahimovic, one of the best players in the world, but also, a United attack that is on fantastic form.
Much like Clyne, James Milner will have a tough matchup against whoever Mourinho starts on his wing.
The midfield’s effectiveness will change depending on whether Jordan Henderson is able to play. While Emre Can and Georginio Wijnaldum are likely starts, Henderson may not be able to recover from his injury in time. If the captain can’t make it in time, Klopp will have to either bring Lallana back into the midfield or play someone like Lucas Leiva or Kevin Stewart.
Adam Lallana moved to the wing in last match and he may be kept in that position for the time being. While he doesn’t have Sadio Mane’s speed, Lallana’s nonstop motor makes him a great choice for the role.
Given that the Liverpool attack hasn’t kicked into gear since the turn of the new year, it may be time to move Roberto Firmino back into the role he had during the early parts of the season. His ability to confuse opposing defenses with his movement may be the best way to break down the solid United back line.
Klopp may decide to keep Philippe Coutinho on the bench to start the match but it would be a massive confidence booster to see the his name in the starting lineup for both his teammates and the fans. Antonio Valencia has been a solid right-back this season but Coutinho has shown that when he is on his game, he is unstoppable.