Connect with us


Liverpool predicted team vs Leicester as Jürgen Klopp weighs up another Darwin Núñez compromise



Liverpool predicted team vs Leicester as Jürgen Klopp weighs up another Darwin Núñez compromise

If anyone expected a conservative approach from Jürgen Klopp as he looked to mastermind a third Liverpool win in the space of a week, the team he named against Brentford appeared to confound that. Handing Darwin Núñez a second consecutive start, having left him on the periphery in recent weeks, the manager named four attackers against one of the league’s surprise European contenders.

In the end, Liverpool secured the victory, more or less ending the Bees’ hopes of getting into Europe — and more importantly, keeping Klopp’s dream of sneaking back into the Champions League alive, a mission that will be taken up on Monday against Leicester City. But the win came by a slender one-goal margin, the fifth such triumph in a row, with Núñez as the spearhead of a four-pronged attack not necessarily yielding the anticipated results.

That might be because it was not really a front four in practice, with Cody Gakpo taking up a fascinating role. We wrote after the game that the January signing effectively operated as the right-sided number eight, showcasing both his versatility and the attack-minded nature of that position in Klopp’s new system.

READ MORE: Curtis Jones ‘masterclass’ has changed Liverpool transfer fate and exposed teammate’s problem

READ MORE: Alexis Mac Allister signs, Jürgen Klopp target in – Dream Liverpool midfield with $193m transfers

While it may have worked, this was clearly a compromise from Klopp, who now has to leave at least one elite forward on the bench every week. Even shoehorning Núñez in by moving Gakpo deeper, the Liverpool boss still named the returning Luis Díaz among the substitutes.

Once the Colombian hits full match sharpness, the dilemma will be even greater. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing for Liverpool, with each forward needing to earn their place every time they step out onto the pitch. Ahead of the game against Leicester, one of the immediate questions is whether Núñez has done that.

After all, while Gakpo performed well as an auxiliary midfielder, he has been one of the highlights of the season as the Roberto Firmino replacement in a false nine role. Likewise, with Klopp set to strengthen the center of the park in the summer, he is unlikely to turn to the man signed as a left-winger less than six months ago as his long-term solution in that department.

Jürgen Klopp must decide whether to play Darwin Núñez for Liverpool against Leicester City.

(Image: Photo by Andrew Powell/Liverpool FC via Getty Images)

Liverpool will not be looking unduly far into the future just yet, with all the focus on trying to steal away a Champions League place. It’s out of Klopp’s hands, but winning the last three fixtures would pile on the pressure. So the question that must be asked, starting with the Leicester game, is whether fielding Núñez gives the optimal chance of doing that.

With Leicester having been porous all season, perhaps Klopp will be tempted to use the same compromise again. More vulnerable in transition than some typical ‘deep block’ struggling sides, a Liverpool team packed full of pacey attackers could do some serious damage.

That will place some more onus on the other midfielders to cover for Gakpo, but Curtis Jones proved against Brentford he is up to the challenge. Indeed, Klopp has fielded him as a number six in the past. Behind that pair, Fabinho has enjoyed something of a revival, and in any case has no obvious deputy.

If you enjoyed this piece, you’ll love our newsletter — every weekday, we send exclusive, bonus content only to people signed up for our mailing list!

Our newsletter subscribers get a rundown Monday to Friday from one of the best Liverpool FC writers — straight to your inbox, and completely for free.

Wherever you are in the world — in the US, the UK or further afield — you don’t want to miss out.

Sign up to the newsletter here — it only takes a few seconds!

Moving further back, the defense also more or less picks itself. On the right, Trent Alexander-Arnold will be needed for his defensive role as much as anything else, tucking in alongside Fabinho to stop Leicester doing damage in transitions of its own. The first choice central pairing is now cemented as Virgil van Dijk and Ibrahima Konaté, while Andy Robertson is the starting left-back. In goal, Alisson is the best in the world, meaning his place is never under any real question.

That would make it an unchanged side from the Brentford win. And with Liverpool having benefited from more than a week off, this would make sense from Klopp, with the remaining schedule effectively allowing him to pick each team purely on its merits.

Predicted line-up: Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Konaté, Van Dijk, Robertson; Fabinho, Gakpo, Jones; Salah, Núñez, Jota.


Pep Guardiola hoping to avoid ‘nul points’ nightmare as Eurovision threatens Treble bid

Pep Guardiola has suggested this weekend’s Eurovision song contest final in Liverpool can hurt Manchester City’s attempt to win the treble this season.

The Premier League leaders travel to Merseyside to play relegation-threatened Everton at Goodison Park on Sunday, despite their 1-1 draw against Real Madrid in the first leg of their Champions League semi-final being played on Tuesday night.

The final of Eurovision, the famous annual song competition, is being held in Liverpool on Saturday and Guardiola has suggested his side are being deprived of an extra day’s rest ahead of their home second leg against the Spanish giants on Wednesday night due to Liverpool not being able to manage and police two big events on the same day.

“I can’t understand it, but I’m not going to fight it anymore,” Guardiola explained during the pre-match press conference. “We don’t have much time from Madrid because we play on Sunday, thank you so much.

“But it’s a real, real priority Goodison Park. We play for all competitions. We have to switch. Adapt. Four games left in the Premier League and it’s important to us to be there, to keep what we play for in our hands. We train tomorrow and we have to prepare as well as possible.

“I don’t understand it, but we have to adapt. The schedule, it is what it is. It’s not frustrating, it is what it is. How many times can I comment on that?

“I’m sure the Premier League want to help teams, they don’t want to make us uncomfortable, the problem is the schedule, the amount of competitions, this amount of games. I think we cannot play on Saturday because there is Eurovision and we do not have enough bodies or the capability to handle so many people [in Liverpool].”

Guardiola’s side are in a heated title race with Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal, who host Brighton later on Sunday, with just one point separating the sides, although City have a game in hand.

City have the opportunity to equal Manchester United’s achievement in 1999 by winning the Champions League, Premier League and FA Cup in the same season.

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *