Eight days after putting West Ham to the sword, Liverpool have the always-tricky task of getting past Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park.
The club has suffered its fair share of hiccups at this ground and will be doing everything in its power to ensure that Monday night doesn’t bring one more.
One of the major steps that Jurgen Klopp can take in order to achieve that goal will be to make certain that his side wins the battle of the midfield.
If last season’s respective fixture between the two sides is anything to go by then the hosts are likely to afford Liverpool the majority of possession and aim to hurt them on the counterattack.
Thus, it may seem counterintuitive to attribute the most important area of the game as being the midfield.
However, in clashes like this, Liverpool’s midfielders will be tasked with aiding the front 3 in finding and creating space for goal scoring opportunities. As well as not allowing Palace the opportunity to spark dangerous counterattacks.
If they do these two things well, then the 3 points are likely. Contrarily to what was most common last season though, Jurgen Klopp has a bit of a selection dilemma as to who he should field.
We’ll be taking a look at his options in midfield and who would be most effective.
There isn’t much else to be said about this guy other than the fact that he absolutely will start on Monday night. Expect to see him drifting into space with the ball at his feet and finding clever passes into the forwards ahead of him.
His defensive intelligence will also be key in snuffing out Palace’s creativity.
Season after season, fans and pundits wonder if there’s any room left for James Milner in the side; and time and again he shoehorns himself in there.
He kicked the season off in absolute style with a fantastic performance against West Ham on Sunday. His energy, intelligence, and tidiness were all key contributors towards the rout that took place.
He started the season exactly where he left off the last, maintaining the form that helped guide Liverpool to the Champions League Final. His odds of starting on Monday are very high.
Rounding off the midfield 3 that began the season is Gini Wijnaldum. Deployed as the number 6 by Klopp, the Dutchman has slotted into the role excellently in the few times that he’s been placed there.
He’s such a clever footballer, with attributes in pretty much every department. He had a solid game on Sunday, stifling The Hammers, linking up play, and even offering an attacking option in and around the opposition penalty area.
By almost no fault of his own though, he is the most likely of the 3 to drop out.
The skipper got his first minutes of football since the World Cup semi-final under his belt on Sunday, coming on as a substitute with just over 20 minutes to spare.
The number 6 role has been his for the past 2 seasons, making him the most likely option to come in for Wijnaldum.
Roy Hodgson played with a 4-4-2 in Palace’s opener against Fulham. It’s more than likely, however, that we’ll see that change into a 4-5-1 on Monday, with Kouyate maybe coming in for either Townsend or Schlupp.
This extra presence and physicality in midfield gives all the more reason as to why we could see Henderson back in the first eleven.
The big money signing from Monaco. Fans are still eagerly waiting to see the Brazilian get his Premier League debut, and Monday’s clash could be the occasion.
For all the reasons that Jordan Henderson is likely to start, a similar case could be made for Fabinho.
More familiar with the number 6 role than Henderson, (not in a Klopp system, however) he’s very capable of getting the job done.
If Hodgson does indeed start with Kouyate in midfield, then Fabinho would be even more suited to physically matching the Senegalese international.
A knock is said to be the reason why he didn’t feature on Sunday, if that’s to be believed then it’s likely that the Brazilian will play on Monday in some capacity.
The two outside shouts at getting a start. Both of these players excel in creativity and would be tasked mostly with being the spark that plays off the attackers.
Any possibility of either of these players starting would be in tandem with Keita rather than in place of him.
It would be a real surprise if either one of these two lined up in the middle of the park on Monday, but that’s no slander on their ability.
In what will undoubtedly prove to be a long and demanding season, Shaqiri and Lallana’s massive roles will be more evidenced later.
After looking at what each player has to offer, the most likely midfield trio that we’ll see on Monday will be Henderson, Milner, and Keita.
The latter two absolutely have to start again, and the captain needs to be integrated back into the side sooner rather than later.
It can comfortably be said though, that whatever combination Klopp ultimately goes with will have no real drop in quality from any other. The manager is blessed with a plethora of fine players that all should be much better than their Palace counterparts.
Klopp is faced with a bit of a dilemma, but he’s probably enjoying every bit of it.