Home News Liverpool lineup dilemmas vs. Toulouse – Who should start at left-back?

Liverpool lineup dilemmas vs. Toulouse – Who should start at left-back?

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It is straight back to Thursday action for Jurgen Klopp‘s side as Toulouse arrive at Anfield, but how should the Reds line up for the Europa League contest?

There is little rest for Liverpool as they get back to their midweek/weekend schedule, now aiming to continue their perfect start to their European campaign against Toulouse.

Klopp has readily rotated his side when it comes to these fixtures, but he has a number of injuries and selection dilemmas to consider.

The French side arrive with the second-best record in Group E (four points) and Klopp will not be one to underestimate Liverpool’s opponents.

So, here we discuss how the manager may set up his side at Anfield, with David Lynch (@dmlynchlfc), Joanna Durkan (@JoannaDurkan_) and Jack Lusby (@LusbyJack) providing their thoughts.

 

The left-back conundrum then, who is your choice for the XI?

DAVID: I know there are calls for Joe Gomez to be tried in this position but he looks to be nailed down as Trent Alexander-Arnold‘s understudy at right-back these days, so will surely start there instead.

That leaves room for an academy graduate to come in at left-back and, on the evidence of Sunday’s under-21s game, Luke Chambers should get the nod.

Like Jarell Quansah, he was withdrawn just 45 minutes into a 1-1 draw with Benfica at Kirkby, meaning he looks primed to come in for a first senior start.

For me, that is the right decision, as his impressive stature makes him more ready than any of the potential alternatives for the step up to men’s football. He’s also a very good player, so I’m excited to see him get this chance.

JOANNA: It was far from the best first look at what is in store without Andy Robertson, having been withdrawn just after the hour mark on Saturday, but I’d be looking at Tsimikas at left-back again.

It may be asking a lot of him if we look to the games on the horizon, but a pre-planned change with youngster Calum Scanlon or Chambers could be the way to go for this one.

Hopefully it’s a match that can inject some confidence into Kostas and subsequently give Scanlon or Chambers a taste of senior football with Anfield on his side.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Wednesday, September 27, 2023: Liverpool's Luke Chambers during the Football League Cup 3rd Round match between Liverpool FC and Leicester City FC at Anfield. Liverpool won 3-1. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

JACK: It’s a shame Conor Bradley isn’t fit yet, as these games would be perfect for him to step in for Trent – and his absence has a knock-on effect elsewhere.

Personally, Gomez should be first choice at left-back over Tsimikas, but that doesn’t look likely.

There’s cause to argue that he should take over on the left for this game, but then, as David points out, he’s really needed at right-back instead.

Scanlon looked more on it against Benfica, but Chambers is the more first-team ready youngster. He’s my pick.

 

One Europa start each so far, but Alisson or Kelleher in goal?

SINGAPORE - Sunday, July 30, 2023: Liverpool's goalkeeper Caoimhin Kelleher is substituted for goalkeeper Alisson Becker during a pre-season friendly match between Liverpool FC and Leicester City FC at the Singapore National Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

DAVID: With Caoimhin Kelleher now back to full fitness, he surely has to come in for this one.

The Irishman is too good to waste the season sitting on the bench and these group-stage games are great opportunities for him to pick up much-needed experience.

Much like when it comes to the rest of the team, it’ll be a tougher choice if Liverpool make it to the knockout stages but, for now, it’s a no-brainer.

JOANNA: I keep going back and forth on this one, to be honest. I think Kelleher is more than capable and I wouldn’t blink an eye if he starts, but I’m going to say Ali for this one.

He sat out both matches for Brazil during the break and had very little to do against Everton, he’s fresh and I’m sure will be eager to help add another clean sheet to the season’s tally.

JACK: Has to be Kelleher.

We’re on a run of seven games in 23 days, and while goalkeeper isn’t the most physically demanding role, rotation is still required.

With the way the fixture list is set out, Klopp can afford to go: Kelleher (Toulouse), Alisson (Forest), Kelleher (Bournemouth), Alisson (Luton), Kelleher (Toulouse), Alisson (Brentford).

Then another international break – joy.

 

Does the midfield pick itself or could there be a curveball?

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Thursday, October 5, 2023: Liverpool's Wataru Endo during the UEFA Europa League Group E matchday 2 game between Liverpool FC and Union SG at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

DAVID: I think this is a game where it picks itself, to be honest. Curtis Jones and Wataru Endo aren’t in the Premier League team at the moment but need to be kept sharp for when they’re called upon.

And how could you deny Harvey Elliott a start given how impressive he has been off the bench so far this season? He has earned another opportunity.

JOANNA: It does appear a pretty straightforward selection, keeping in mind that Curtis Jones will still be suspended for Sunday’s league match.

For me, I find it hard to see the midfield being anything other than Endo, Elliott and Jones – the former two have been consistent members of the rotated midfield and it is nice to tend to those connections as we’ll be needing them throughout the season.

WOLVERHAMPTON, ENGLAND - Saturday, September 16, 2023: Liverpool's goal-scorer Harvey Elliott celebrates after the FA Premier League match between Wolverhampton Wanderers FC and Liverpool FC at Molineux Stadium. Liverpool won 3-1. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

JACK: I agree. Surely this is the chance for Endo.

Jones is a dead cert given his afternoons off in the league, while Elliott’s form for both club and country should be recognised.

I’d love to see Gravenberch again – he’s such a fun player to watch – but he’s needed at the weekend, as are Mac Allister and Szoboszlai.

 

How many changes should Klopp make and thus, what XI would you select?

LONDON, ENGLAND - Saturday, September 30, 2023: Liverpool's Darwin Nunez gestures to the travelling supporters after the FA Premier League match between Tottenham Hotspur FC and Liverpool FC at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

JACK: For me, lot will depend on whether Gakpo is fit.

If he’s ready to start, I could see him coming in as Jota played the full 90 in the derby and Diaz was only brought off late on.

Even if he isn’t, we’re still likely to see at least nine changes, with Alisson, Trent, Konate, Van Dijk, Tsimikas, Mac Allister, Szoboszlai, Gravenberch and Jota all dropping out.

Kelleher; Gomez, Matip, Quansah, Chambers; Endo, Elliott, Jones; Salah, Diaz, Nunez

JOANNA: I expect to see at least seven changes, with Joel Matip, Jarell Quansah and Joe Gomez to be part of that in defence – plus Nunez to come back in up top.

It’d be the same forward line that we saw against Union SG last time out in the competition when we saw changes at half time, and I’d expect the same again – Gakpo being one of them, fitness permitting!

Alisson; Gomez, Matip, Quansah, Tsimikas; Endo, Elliott, Jones; Salah, Jota, Nunez

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Wednesday, September 27, 2023: Liverpool's Cody Gakpo celebrates after scoring the first equalising goal during the Football League Cup 3rd Round match between Liverpool FC and Leicester City FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

DAVID: Whenever the option to make 11 changes is there in this competition, Klopp has to take it.

As much as that is about staving off fatigue, it’s also worth noting that this is probably the deepest squad Klopp has had at Liverpool, and so rotation is important simply to keep everyone happy.

With that in mind, I’d go for a completely fresh starting XI for this one. The one question mark, of course, is whether Ben Doak is fit.

Kelleher; Gomez, Matip, Quansah, Chambers; Endo, Elliott, Jones; Doak, Nunez, Gakpo