4 Jan 2016

Liverpool XI vs. Stoke: £43m injury blow; 5 big changes? Klopp finally starts Teixeira?

In the aftermath of Liverpool's 2-0 humbling by West Ham, Reds boss Jurgen Klopp admitted that the performance made him 'angry', and reeled off a series of issues that need to improve in future games. Actions speak louder than words, though; Klopp can get as angry as he likes, but it's meaningless unless it leads to consistent improvement, and hopefully, that improvement will begin against Stoke City on Tuesday evening.

Klopp's pre-match updates:

* On Hendo: "At this moment...it's not possible [for Henderson] to train or to play. We hope it's not serious. He's having treatment but we cannot rush more".

* On Sturridge: "He [Sturridge] didn't have one session with the team, which was the usual plan for this week, so he's not available".

* On possible changes: "We don't have that much opportunity for [changes]. It's not that we have six, seven, eight players to change in this moment, we have always all the squad with us".

With the greatest respect, it's utter nonsense for Klopp to claim that he doesn't have the players to make changes:

* Joao Teixeira is fit and available. Every time he's played for Liverpool he's done well, including against Bournemouth in an earlier round of this very competition (during which he created the winning goal). With all the injuries/form issues/fixture pile-up, there's no excuse to ignore Teixeira for this game.

* Brad Smith and Connor Randall are fit and probably desperate to play, and both have acquitted themselves well for the Reds in previous games (especially Smith, who looks good every time he plays).

* Joe Allen, and Jordon Ibe have barely played in the last few weeks. Ibe has played only 112 minutes since Dec 20th, and Allen has been granted just 12 minutes of pitch time since December 7th.

* Sakho and Lovren have both been injured recently, so it's not like they've been overplayed this season. As such, they don't even need to be rotated.

* Klopp also has other options to consider, such as Jerome Sinclair, Cameron Brannagan, and Pedro Chirivella.

When he first arrived at Anfield, Klopp told reporters:

"When I'm managing a club, each young player should smile because the chance is bigger than it ever was. The door is pretty wide open. Experience is an important point, but not the most."

In my view, Klopp needs to start living up to this claim because, so far, it's a completely empty statement. My preferred lineup for Stoke:

----------------- Bogdan
Randall --- Sakho ---- Lovren ----- Smith
------ Allen/Lucas -- Can
--- Ibe ------ Coutinho -- Teixeira
-------------- Benteke

In a 442:

----------------- Bogdan
Randall --- Sakho ---- Lovren ----- Smith
Ibe -------- Allen/Lucas -- Can -- Coutinho
---------- Teixeira
--------------- Benteke


You have until Tuesday 8PM (GMT) to make your predictions.

* 20 Points: First goalscorer.

* 20 Points: First Liverpool player to misplace a pass (i.e. any pass that doesn't go to another Liverpool player).

* 30 Points: Collective number of aerial duels won (LFC)

* 50 Point Triple-Whammy: Perfect score + First goalscorer + first misplaced pass (Possible points total: 120)

* The Vilos Cohaagen Mega-Bonus: 100 points for Perfect score + First goalscorer + first misplaced pass + aerial duels (Possible points total: 200)

Good luck!

^ Henderson and Sturridge: Rated at £43m combined.

Author: Jaimie K


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