How was your break? Did you enjoy it? What do you mean, ‘what break’?
With a whole 4 days off between the game last Friday night and the match tonight, Jurgen Klopp took his troops away for a well-earned break…to Melwood, for a chance to carry out some actual training. They may not have needed Factor 50 sun-block, but it gave the Liverpool squad a chance to recuperate (a bit), train (a bit), and bring in reinforcements (a bit…sorry Steven).
To say that the extent of the injuries to the Liverpool defence is a crisis would be an understatement. Yesterday, the UN Council passed a special resolution to provide aid to four war-torn countries and the Liverpool squad. Ban Ki Moon visited the Medical Room at Melwood to see for himself the extent of the devastation, and he was visibly shaken on the journey back to his hotel.
Steven Caulker has been parachuted in to provide aid. He’s not actually a footballer anymore, rather a humanitarian and disaster-relief special envoy, who has previously worked in Nepal, Libya and Newcastle.
However the Premier League is an unforgiving beast, and so the relentless march of the football calendar continues ever onward. Arsenal come to town perched atop the table, with a 2-point lead over Leicester City and a further point ahead of Manchester City.
In their ranks they boast arguably the best player in England right now in Mathieu Flamini….just kidding, it’s Mesut Ozil. The German is an assist machine who is well on target to break the greatest number of assists in a Premier League season, the greatest number of assists in the NBA, and the greatest number of assists in the North London Sperm Bank (allegedly, although with those eyes it won’t be hard to spot if it’s true in about 3 years time). Alexis Sanchez misses this game, and Jack Wilshere is doubtful…for the rest of this decade.
Jurgen Klopp has concerns in other areas of the pitch, namely up front where Christian Benteke is redefining the term ‘misfit’, Daniel Sturridge is redefining the term ‘brittle’ and Adam Lallana is redefining the term ‘Pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis’* – he’s the clever one of the group.
Klopp must decide whether he should start Benteke, who last Friday night was dominated by a League 2 defence, or to give Roberto Firmino the nod to play through the middle against the formidable pairing of Mertesacker and Koscielny. Klopp is boosted by the return to training of Kolo Toure, Mamadou Sakho, Jordan Henderson and Jordon Ibe, who are all vying for starting places. In truth the starting XI for Liverpool should be relatively strong, but the bench will probably look like the cast of ‘Glee’, before they were famous.
*’Pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis’ is a term for a type of lung disease, caused by inhaling fine ash, sand dust or Sam Allardyce’s dandruff.