The Merseyside derby demands each team’s work horses, their leaders, the figures who can spearhead the work rate and the fight. Liverpool just lost their ambassador in this department.
Adam Lallana is the type of player Reds love to see fit for derby day, especially given the season he is having and the manner in which he has adapted to his central midfield role. Not only will his grace and invention going forward be missed, but so will the aggression and the grit that he adds to that central trio.
Losing key players to injury has hurt us dearly since the turn of the year, primarily because we are yet to have found a way of tactically dealing with such a setback, nor do we have the personnel in which to do this effectively.
News of Lallana’s month-long spell on the side-lines was admittedly demoralising after it looked as though the team was finding some form again. Nonetheless, the derby awaits and regardless of who is fit and who isn’t, the players have no excuses.
We’ve attempted to do some thinking on behalf of Jurgen Klopp, who faces the task of coming up with a starting line-up without Lallana for Saturday’s clash with Everton.
One midfielder out. Another midfielder in. Seems old-fashioned, self explanatory if you will, but it is by no means as straight forward as it first appears. Those awaiting in the wings as the candidates to fulfil such a change are Lucas Leiva, Kevin Stewart and Marko Grujic- that’s if Jordan Henderson’s situation remains the same and he is unable to start.
Lucas would be the most likely option out of the three, not only because of his experience in the fixture but also because he is capable of replacing the determination and the tough tackling that we would lose from Lallana. Having said this, there is a case for the idea that Kevin Stewart can offer the same, in addition to being an aerial presence and perhaps offering more in the way of athleticism across the entire pitch.
Marko Grujic boasts a similar attribute as a developing box-to-box midfielder who would undoubtedly relish a first team opportunity. His youth makes his inclusion unlikely but he is certainly an option that could compliment the similar style of Emre Can.
Milner in midfield…
A slightly more conventional alteration, not only due to James Milner’s experience in central midfield but also because of how regularly he has played this season. He is up to speed, aware of what to expect from those around him and the kind of player made for derbies.
This would leave a gap at left-back, thereby inviting Klopp to move Nathaniel Clyne to the opposite flank and bring in Trent Alexander-Arnold at right-back. A risky move, but one we wouldn’t put past the manager. The 18-year-old would bring a local feel to the occasion and need no extra motivation in a contest he knows all about. Besides this, he’s a special talent who is going to get his chance in a derby one day anyway, so why not now?
Everton are bound to come at us in search of revenge following Sadio Mane’s injury time winner at Goodison Park last time out. The pace of Clyne and Alexander-Arnold on either side could prove valuable in exploiting the space our city rivals will leave open.
A bit of Brazilian magic…
Philippe Coutinho as a central midfield is a move Klopp has flirted with numerous times. His vision, long-range shooting expertise and ability to beat two or three players makes playing him in a deeper role a potentially genius decision, providing he can adapt to it.
This would leave room for Divock Origi to come in and start from the left hand side of a front three also containing Roberto Firmino as the central figure and Sadio Mane on the right. Pace on both wings and the more illusive style of the two Brazilian’s would be key in disjointing an Everton defence that has already been disrupted by injuries.