Liverpool takes on Everton in the Premier League later today. Here, three of our writers select the starting XIs we would like Jürgen Klopp to choose at Anfield.
Liverpool has been made to wait this weekend to return to action, but does so against Everton in what needs to be a season-changing performance ahead of a crucial period of matches.
Newcastle United and Real Madrid are on the horizon, among others, in a month-long period that will determine what the outcome of the campaign looks like — and therefore whether or not Champions League football is attained.
For this one, there are a few dilemmas to solve. Joël Matip and Joe Gomez had a nightmare last weekend and Nat Phillips could come into the side, while Thiago Alcântara is out with a hip injury.
These are the teams that some of our Liverpool.com writers would select.
Alisson Becker will be in goal and for me, the full-backs are obvious, even though some might make the argument for bringing in James Milner at right-back for his experience.
At center-back, I’m sticking with the two that had a calamity last week. Phillips is an option, but Liverpool needs one of Matip or Gomez to find some form with big games coming up, and letting them stew on what happened at Wolves last weekend for even longer is not what I want to see — this is the perfect chance to try and put it right.
In midfield, I’d have been bringing Jordan Henderson back in here regardless of doubts over Thiago, but definitely now. If you don’t bring the captain back in for the derby after a 3-0 loss the week before, when do you? Stefan Bajčetić stays in over Fabinho and Naby Keïta can switch to the left side and play Thiago’s role.
In attack, Mohamed Salah is off-form but just has to play. Darwin Núñez is a must and Harvey Elliott has impressed me more than I thought on the left. He deserves to come back into the side.
That would leave me with Cody Gakpo, Diogo Jota and possibly Roberto Firmino as options to change things up, which is a nice attacking advantage that Klopp has been without for much of this season.
My starting XI: Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Matip, Gomez, Robertson; Bajčetić, Henderson, Keïta; Salah, Núñez, Elliott
Predicted scoreline: 1-0 to Liverpool.
One thing to watch:Diogo Jota to inject some life into the attack.
James Martin – Time to try Phillips
Facing a potential set-piece assault, it has to be time for Nat Phillips in defense. An old-school, body-on-the-line center-half with an aerial presence to match, he would fill me with more confidence than Joe Gomez, and he has already proved against Erling Haaland that he can handle pace when required.
He can partner Matip — the Cameroonian is also in shaky form, but his striding runs will offer a useful playmaking tool against a stubborn Sean Dyche defence. The usual suspects pick themselves at full-back.
In midfield, the absence of Thiago makes this selection pretty straightforward. Bajčetić is effectively an automatic pick at the minute, having not put a foot wrong, and with Fabinho so out of sorts. Keïta has done enough to keep his place anyway, but is more or less guaranteed it without the Spaniard. For the third slot, the captain will surely be restored.
Up top, Núñez showed signs of life against Wolves, and can hopefully build on that here. Klopp is unlikely to thrust Jota straight back in, so can persist with Gakpo for the time being, ideally off the left flank this time. On the right, it has to be Salah.
My starting XI: Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Matip, Phillips, Robertson; Bajčetić, Henderson, Keïta; Salah, Núñez, Gakpo
Predicted scoreline: 1-1 draw.
One thing to watch: Bajčetić to achieve another milestone in his coming-of-age.
Emmet Gates – Faith in Bajčetić kept
I don’t believe we will see much of a change from Klopp in terms of personnel for the derby, more just through a lack of choice in certain areas of the field rather than players being in top form.
The back four and goalkeeper pretty much pick themselves. None of Alexander-Arnold, Gomez, Matip and Robertson have been in especially good form, but Klopp has no real alternatives at this point, so he has to persist with them.
In midfield, Klopp will keep the faith in Bajčetić at the base of the midfield, with the youngster one of the only few bright lights of 2023. Klopp could produce a wildcard here and throw in Curtis Jones on the left-hand side, with Naby Keïta on the opposite side.
In attack, even with Jota back, it’s too soon for a start for him, so he could fill the role of impact sub should things not be going Liverpool’s way in the game. We’ll see Gakpo, Núñez and Salah, and let’s hope Gakpo can score his first goal for the club when it’s most needed.
My starting XI: Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Matip, Gomez, Robertson; Bajčetić, Jones, Keïta; Salah, Núñez, Gakpo
Predicted scoreline: 2-1 to Liverpool.
One thing to watch: Cody Gakpo to score his first for the club.