Klopp has been experimenting with a 4-3-3 formation in the absence of Sturridge this pre-season, with Firmino taking up a central role. This is a massive season for Liverpool and Klopp, so who will make their best XI? Here’s my thoughts!
Here’s how I believe they will line-up:
Take note, this WILL NOT be their starting XI for GW1. In fact probably for the majority of the season. Why you ask? Daniel Sturridge. You’ll be shocked to hear that he’s a doubt for the opener against Arsenal… New signing Wijnaldum will likely come in and Firmino move up front. Moving on.
Starting from the back, massive improvements need to be made on last seasons woeful defensive displays. They managed 11 clean sheets last season, however 3 of those came in the first 3 gameweeks. From September onwards they managed to shutout just 8 out of 35 teams. Even so, you’ll be paying 5.0 or 5.5 for their starting defenders, the same as last seasons champions Leicester.
I should add however that the underlying stats after Klopp’s arrival do suggest some progress is being made. From February onwards, they conceded just 14 goals in 13 games. The signing of centre back Joel Matip will hopefully help them to 15+ shutouts this season, however 5.5 is pricey. We all know of Clyne’s attacking talents, even though he failed to register an assist last season. At 5.0 Moreno could be a shout as he loves to bomb forward, but I see him as the weak link in defence.
A signing that has snuck under the radar is Ragnar Klavan. He generally plays as a centre back, but is capable of filling in at left back as well. He’s a sure bet to start against Arsenal. Klavan will keep things simple in defence and should be considered at 5.0, although he won’t pose much of a goal threat. Lovren is my other tip to start in front of Mignolet, having started against Barcelona you can trust that he’ll be a regular this season. Klopp brought in Karius to replace the wayward Belgian, however he has suffered a hand injury and is out for a couple of months. Expect to be left bewildered at one of the goal(s) Mignolet concedes to cost you a clean sheet this season.
Moving forward and there’s plenty to like! Henderson and Can should hold down the centre of the park, but I see more attacking options in those price ranges. Coutinho continues to show glimpses of pure genius, but not enough consistently to warrant a spot. SO FAR. 8.0 could be a bargain if he puts it all together, I’m yet to see him in many drafts. Wijnaldum is a wildcard signing having recently arrived from Newcastle for 25 million pounds. I’m less than convinced, he had far more poor displays last season than he did good ones. Having said that there’s clearly potential there, I just don’t see a starting position for him if Sturridge is fit.
These next 2 blokes should be high on your radar, because in Sturridge’s seemingly inevitable absence one of them could be started up front. Mane and Firmino combined for 21 goals and 17 assists last season, pretty impressive figures for those listed as midfielders. Firmino has been operating up top in pre-season and looks the likely man to lead the line, suggesting 8.5 could be a ridiculous steal. His second half of the season was incredible. Mane has also been in hot form this pre-season and is one to consider as a differential.
Lastly of course we have the much maligned Sturridge. If his body holds together he’s capable of scoring 20+ goals without lifting a finger. Sadly that’s probably the biggest if since an Arsenal fan said “if we sign a striker”. Remember how many years Van Persie struggled before things finally clicked? Don’t rule him out of your plans, but I’d avoid him for GW1.
Next up, Manchester City and Pep Guardiola.