A selected few of the Anfield Edition team have picked their Liverpool XI’s to face Manchester City in the Premier League on Sunday.
Owen Maers – Midfield needs injection of creativity and Shaqiri is the answer
A toothless performance against Napoli had me wondering how many changes we truly needed. Roberto Firmino had a poor game and looks in dire need of a rest, but based on previous meetings with Manchester City it’s almost impossible to drop such a key player.
Daniel Sturridge deserves a chance at playing but purely based on history, Firmino will retain his place for this match. The midfield needs an injection of creativity and starting Xherdan Shaqiri might just be the answer – the Swiss International has looked lively whenever he has featured.
While some rigidity and shape would certainly be lost in the centre of the park a bit of inspiration would be ideal. Klopp may opt to play Gini Wijnaldum despite a poor performance away to Napoli or even Fabinho who was subbed on for James Milner with 15 minutes to play. The need to be defensively solid against Manchester City is obvious, but even more so is the ability to create plenty of chances in the attempt to blow them away early doors.
(My XI: Alisson, Alexander-Arnold, Gomez, Van Dijk, Robertson, Henderson, Milner, Shaqiri, Salah, Mane, Firmino)
Laurie Yarde – If Keita isn’t ready, Shaqiri MUST start
With no wins in three matches and coming off the back of one of the worst performances under Klopp with the defeat to Napoli, there is no better game for the Reds’ to turn their fortunes around than a visit from Man City at Anfield. Arguably our most anticipated match of the season and one that could be vital in determining who lifts the Premier League title in May; three points would be a massive statement.
For what feels like the first time in years, Liverpool have a settled back five and it should remain unchanged against City. While Trent and Robbo were far from their best midweek, they should be up for the occasion.
The midfield remains a problem — it looked laboured and unimaginative against Napoli but with little options to rotate, Milner and Wijnaldum should retain their places. They were both poor on Wednesday night and Milner in particular looked knackered but you have to hope the occasion lifts them. As for the final place in midfield, if he is ready to start, it has to be Naby Keita. As Ox proved twice against City last season, they struggle with a midfielder who will drive at them and run forward and Keita offers just that. If he’s not ready, Shaqiri has to play, simple as.
The front three really hasn’t clicked this season and it’s beginning to become increasingly worrying. Salah looks a shadow of the player he was last season, while Mane’s early season form also seems to have dropped off. In any other game, I’d start Daniel Sturridge. He looks the best he has in years and the technique for his goal at the Bridge was unbelievable. In a game of this magnitude, I’d be reluctant to tinker with the attack though and you just have to hope it finally clicks. If it doesn’t though, please give Sturridge longer than 5 minutes off the bench Jurgen…
(My XI: Alisson, Alexander-Arnold, Gomez, Van Dijk, Robertson, Wijnaldum, Milner, Keita, Salah, Firmino, Mane)
Elliot Whitelaw – Salah desperately needs a break so Shaqiri gets the nod
Alisson still continues to impress, saved us from an embarrassment at Chelsea, did well against Napoli too but was just unfortunate. The back four really doesn’t need justifying, as I’m sure everyone will agree – Gomez is fast becoming a great partner for VVD, finally showing us the talent that made us purchase him from Charlton a few years back.
Fabinho really needs to start, I know Man City is a big game but we need his abilities desperately, his coolness on the ball and ability to know when to pick out the right pass, and most importantly his tackling. Gini warrants his place so I’d start him in a little more advanced role than usual. Milner looks absolutely knackered – so if Keita is available I would have a 4-2-3-1 with Keita as a 10 behind Firmino, failing that and Keita is out, stick to the 4-3-3.
Mane and Firmino both keep their spot, but Salah desperately needs a break, we saw that his shoulder still needs tape to support it when he gave Ancelotti his shirt on Wednesday night, and he just doesn’t look like the player he was last year. Give Shaqiri the nod, it’s the least he deserves.
(My XI: Alisson, Alexander-Arnold, Gomez, Van Dijk, Robertson, Fabinho, Milner, Wijnaldum, Mane, Firmino, Shaqiri)