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Liverpool vs. Toulouse: 10 key things to know ahead of first meeting in 16 years

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Liverpool return to Europa League action looking to extend their perfect start to Group E against French side Toulouse on Thursday night.

Liverpool vs. Toulouse

Europa League Group E (3) | Anfield
October 26, 2023 | 8pm (BST)


The Reds kicked off their first Europa League campaign since 2016 with wins over LASK and Unions SG, and can take a big jump towards the knockout stages with three points in this one.

Jurgen Klopp‘s side returned to winning ways against Everton after stuttering before the international break with dropped points against Tottenham and Brighton.

But, they will now be looking to keep that derby-winning feeling at Anfield as they bid to make it three wins in three from the group.

Here are the 10 things you need to know ahead of Liverpool vs. Toulouse.

 

Gakpo “available for the squad”

The boss provided us with a number of fitness updates as he previewed his side’s third Europa League clash of the season so far.

Cody Gakpo has been in “full training since Sunday, according to the boss, and is “available for the squad.” Elsewhere in attack, there was no mention of Ben Doak‘s fitness status but he wasn’t in full training on Wednesday afternoon.

After feeling cramps towards the end of last week, Klopp said Darwin Nunez“is fine for this game, I would say.”

Meanwhile, the manager confirmed Andy Robertson “had surgery and all went well,” but admitted “we don’t know how long it will take” to come back.

There was also an update on Stefan Bajcetic as the boss said he is still “not in team training”.

 

2. Toulouse danger men

The French side have picked up four points from their first two fixtures in Group E themselves and will be keen to get something from Anfield to help their own quest for knockout qualification.

Frank Magri is Toulouse’s top scorer with three goals so far this season and was left out of the starting XI for the 1-1 draw with Reims ahead of the trip to Anfield.

Eighteen-year-old Guillaume Restes is one of Europe’s most talented young goalkeepers but will have his work cut out no matter which forward line Klopp elects to go with.

 

3. Left-back conundrum

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, October 21, 2023: Liverpool's Kostas Tsimikas during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Everton FC, the 243rd Merseyside Derby, at Anfield. Liverpool won 2-0. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The injury to Andy Robertson has left the door open for Liverpool’s senior left-backs to grab themselves additional minutes over the coming weeks.

Kostas Tsimikas was the man tasked with filling in for the Scotland captain against Everton, but the likes of Joe Gomez, Luke Chambers and even Calum Scanlon will be hoping for opportunities in Robertson’s absence.

We have already seen that Klopp likes to rotate his side in this competition, does that mean we could see youth given a chance against Toulouse?

 

4. A rare meeting

Liverpool, England - Tuesday, August 28, 2007: Liverpool's Peter Crouch celebrates scoring the opening goal against Toulouse during the UEFA Champions League third qualifying match 2nd Leg at Anfield. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Thursday will be just the second time the two sides have met at Anfield, with the first coming in the 4-0 victory in Champions League qualifying all the way back in 2007.

Liverpool went on to get knocked out by Chelsea in the semi-final of that season’s competition, having reached two of the previous three finals by beating the London side at the same stage.

 

5. Chance for Jones

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

Curtis Jones is yet to complete his three-game domestic ban for wrongly being sent off against Tottenham, but that doesn’t mean he can’t be involved in this one.

The visit of Toulouse provides a perfect opportunity for Liverpool’s No. 17 to maintain his match sharpness ahead of his full return after the clash with Nottingham Forest this weekend.

Jones will almost certainly feature from the start and will be keen to lay down a marker given the impressive displays of Ryan Gravenberch and Harvey Elliott in his absence.

 

6. Shortcut opportunity

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Thursday, October 5, 2023: Liverpool's manager Jürgen Klopp applauds the supporters after the UEFA Europa League Group E matchday 2 game between Liverpool FC and Union SG at Anfield. Liverpool won 2-0. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

While the Europa League has provided a welcome opportunity for rotation, the manager will want to ensure his players remain professional until the job is done.

Finishing top of the group would allow the Reds to bypass the ‘playoff’ round at the beginning of the knockout stages and progress straight to the last 16 phase.

The two-legged ‘playoff’ round takes place on February 15 and 22, while the subsequent stage doesn’t begin until March 7, bringing Dublin that little bit closer!

 

7. Unconventional qualifying route

2RWXXWW Toulouse's Thijs Dallinga, center right, celebrates with teammates after scoring his sides first goal during the Europa League Group E soccer match between Union St. Gilloise and Toulouse at the Anderlecht stadium in Brussels, Thursday, Sept. 21, 2023. (AP Photo/Geert Vanden Wijngaert)

One look at last season’s Ligue 1 table might leave you wondering how Toulouse managed to qualify for this year’s competition.

The French side finished 13th in the top flight last season but were able to secure their spot in Europe by winning the 2022/23 Coupe de France.

Toulouse thrashed Nantes 5-1 in the Paris final and are making their first appearance in Europe since 2009 in this campaign’s Europa League.

 

8. More changes expected

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)

Dropping out of the Champions League for the first time since 2016 has allowed the manager’s rotated side to build rhythm across the Europa League and League Cup.

The likes of Gravenberch and Elliott have been heavily involved in those competitions so far, but their impressive recent displays in the league may see the manager share the opportunities around further.

Klopp said ahead of this one, he “will make a few changes, not too many maybe” – it’s statement that doesn’t give much away.

Caoimhin Kelleher is available again after the knee cut that kept him out of Union SG’s visit three weeks ago and will be keen to get back between the sticks against Toulouse.

Predicted XI vs. Toulouse: Kelleher; Gomez, Matip, Quansah, Chambers; Elliott, Endo, Jones; Salah, Nunez, Gakpo

 

9. Referee watch

Referees in Europe tend to be less familiar to us as fans, but perhaps that’s a positive!

Rade Obrenovic is in charge on Thursday night for what will be his first Liverpool fixture, but he has previously refereed an England game in which Trent Alexander-Arnold registered a hat-trick of assists in just 10 minutes.

 

10. Follow along with us!

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Thursday, October 5, 2023: A general view showing the new upper tier of the Anfield Road stand seen before the UEFA Europa League Group E matchday 2 game between Liverpool FC and Union SG at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

As always, This Is Anfield are here to bring you live updates from Anfield as the Reds look to do the business in Europe for the third game in a row.

Liverpool can take a big step towards Dublin on Thursday night and you can follow all of the action on our very own matchday liveblog, which will be available from 45 minutes before kick-off.

Up the Reds!