The cavalry are arriving just in time
Barring any unforeseen mishaps between now and next weekend, Jurgen Klopp will finally be able to call upon all of his main attacking players for the first time since pre-season.
Adam Lallana has yet to kick a ball in anger this season, while Philippe Coutinho and Sadio Mané have both missed significant chunks of playing time so far. For next weekend’s home game with Southampton, Klopp should at last have a full compliment of players to choose from.
Indeed, other than right back Nathaniel Clyne, Liverpool are now at full strength, just in time for a hectic part of the schedule that will see the Reds playing twice a week every week until the New Year. A dozen fixtures in a month and a half will test the depth of Klopp’s squad but the return to fitness of Lallana and Coutinho gives Klopp far more options now when it comes to the necessary rotation of his squad.
When you look at the football odds for next weekend, the Reds are firm favourites to beat Southampton but it’s traditionally been a difficult fixture. Last season the Saints faced Liverpool four times and were not only unbeaten, they didn’t concede a single goal. They’ve changed manager since then and now have former Liverpool man Mauricio Pellegrino in charge, but they remain a tough nut to crack and boast a solid defensive record.
Being able to unleash his ‘big five’ of Lallana, Coutinho, Mané, Roberto Firmino, and Mohamed Salah should greatly increase the chances of breaking down a resolute Saints rearguard but it’s unlikely that Klopp will start all of them, especially given the amount of time Lallana has been out. The bench will certainly be looking a lot stronger over the coming weeks though and it's only a matter of time before all five big guns take to the field at once.
With Manchester City running away with it at the top of the Premier League, qualification to the Champions League knock out stages has taken on even more importance for Liverpool as that competition represents their best chance of glory this year. It’s a difficult balancing act as Klopp will not want to rest players for Premier Leaguie games but he will need to be at full strength in Europe.
A win in Sevilla next week would guarantee qualification and therefore allow the German to field a much more experimental line up in the final group game against Spartak Moscow. That’s the ideal scenario, as it would present fringe players such as Dominic Solanke, Danny Ings, Andrew Robertson and Marko Grujic with an opportunity to play, and Klopp could also introduce some promising youngsters such as Ben Woodburn, Ovie Ejari and Harry Wilson, who have been excelling for the under 23s this season.