Liverpool return to action on Wednesday evening, hoping to bounce back following their 2-2 stalemate with West Ham on Sunday. The previous two games against Bournemouth and the Hammers add increased importance to the Middlesbrough match in mid-week, as Jurgen Klopp looks to get his side back to their best.
With Loris Karius finding himself at the heart of heavy criticism from fans and pundits alike, the young German keeper could find himself out of the side in place of Simon Mignolet. The decision seems to be one of the lesser of two evils, rather than of the better quality offered by either player.
Neither goalkeeper exudes confidence to their defenders and at present, the questions being asked by Karius are not being answered. Nonetheless, Jurgen Klopp has made it clear that he has faith in his summer acquisition, and it seems there is no way back for Mignolet.
Dejan Lovren came off at half time against West Ham following a hamstring issue, meaning he is likely to miss out on Wednesday. Ragnar Klavan seems the most appropriate replacement for the Croatian, with Lucas Leiva another player who could come in to do a job at the back. Mamadou Sakho’s Liverpool career seems to be over and I can’t see any involvement for the Frenchman, despite calls from some fans for him to be reinstated.
Liverpool will also be without Daniel Sturridge, who has missed the last few games due to a calf knock. The England international has registered just 28 minutes in the month of December since moving to Anfield four years ago, emphasising his injury woes. With Philippe Coutinho also on the recovery table, Klopp’s attacking options are running pretty thin at the moment, and thus the responsibility will fall on the trio of Adam Lallana, Roberto Firmino and Divock Origi.
Nathaniel Clyne, Ragnar Klavan, Joel Matip, James Milner
Jordan Henderson, Georginio Wijnaldum, Adam Lallana
Sadio Mane, Divock Origi, Roberto Firmino
Emre Can missed out at the weekend due to a small knock and with rumours suggesting he will be out once again, a midfield trio of Henderson, Wijnaldum and Lallana seems likely. I can’t see much variation in the side from the weekend with the current injury constraints to the side, so it will be up to the same eleven to get the three points for Liverpool.
If they can shut out the current individual errors within the side, and display the attacking spark that they have so many times this season, Liverpool will be hard to stop on Wednesday night against Middlesbrough. However, Jurgen Klopp’s side have been rather poor of late and a fixture against a newly promoted side who have already taken points from Manchester City and Arsenal, shouldn’t be underestimated.