???️ Time To Tinker

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The game against Maribor this week leaves Klopp with a dilemma. Is it time to tinker with the team?   The obvious answer is no. The champions League is a vital tournament, and a victory against Maribor will go a long way in helping us secure a place in the knockout stages. However, if he doesn’t make changes against an opposition we previously beat 0-7 away, when is he going to make changes?   With Mané, Lallana, Clyne, and Coutinho out, Liverpool are already suffering from injuries this season. Any further loss of key players would cripple our ability to turn around our indifferent form in the premier league. Just as importantly, it would put more difficult games against Sevilla and Spartak Moscow in jeopardy.   Liverpool also need to give playing time to their squad players. The early elimination from the Carabao Cup has limited their playing time. If not given an opportunity on Wednesday night, the next probable game would be the FA cup in January. However, with the gruelling Christmas schedule on the horizon, it is key we give these players game time. We cannot afford to have them come in cold into a more difficult fixture.   The opposition also fits rotating the squad. Liverpool have struggled breaking down low block sides this season, even with our best players. However, Maribor have to push forward to give themselves any chance of remaining in Europe this season. They will not play all-out attack, but they will need to try to push the game. If Liverpool’s reserve players are not good enough to come into this scenario and perform. It leaves the question of what are they good for?   So what changes could Liverpool make?   Gomez   Joe is a player who has surprised many with the amount of game time he has had so far this season. However, most of it has come at right-back. Klopp has seemed wary to play Gomez in his favoured centre-back role, even with fans screaming for him to be given his shot. A game like Maribor could give a Gomez-Matip partnership a chance to be tried out. With a less than stellar attack facing them and Trent available at right back, it would seem the perfect opportunity.   Gruji??   Gruji?? was Klopp’s first signing as Liverpool boss and has been seen little since, bar extraordinary performances in preseason. One of his biggest problems has been finding a role he excels at in the midfield. Not mobile enough to be box to box or creative enough to link midfield and attack, Gruji?? has regularly been playing for the U23 side as the number 6. His pure physicality, good technique and passing range mean that he has found himself a home in this specialist role. At U23 he looks a level above those around him. It is time to see if he can translate this to the first 11.   OX   There was a lot of speculation on how Klopp intended to use Oxlade-Chamberlain when he signed from Arsenal. Ox was getting plenty of time on the pitch for Arsenal as a wing-back and had turned down a move to Chelsea where he would have likely played a similar role. Ox had made it clear in interviews he viewed himself playing through the centre of the park. Yet, so far, he has been playing from out wide and limited in game time. Liverpool in the match against Tottenham suffered without the energy of Gini Wijnaldum in the midfield. Ox has the potential to replicate Wijnaldum’s high intensity role. Ox showed he likes to score against Maribor. It would make sense to allow him a chance to repeat this through the middle of the park.   Woodburn or Wilson   Both young Welsh men, they are both too good for the U23 level. Wilson is scoring goals for fun and Woodburn is often setting them up for him. Woodburn is no slouch in front of goal himself and his performances for the Wales national team show that he wouldn’t be overawed by the responsibility of coming into the first team. Either would offer a more natural wide option to Bobby Firmino who struggles when pushed out to the wing. Both deserve a chance to show what they can do.   Solanke   Solanke came to the Reds off the back of a fantastic U20 world cup. His performances in preseason showed energy and skill, allowing Klopp to let Divock Origi head out on Loan. Yet, since the season began we have barely seen him. He has had brief cameo substitute performances but, apart from the Carabao cup, he hasn’t started a game. At the weekend he entered the match against Huddersfield with 10 minutes to go. His more traditional playing style gave the midfielder a focal point to play off and showed what he could bring to the side. As the first forward Klopp has bought it suggests he is keen to use this type of forward. Against Maribor may well be a perfect opportunity to test it out.   It is obvious in a game we need to win that making all of the above changes wouldn’t be appropriate. However, the list shows that there are viable options chomping at the bit to get game time. Hopefully Klopp sees fit to give some of them a chance on Wednesday night. Equally importantly, hopefully, if they do play, they don’t let him or the fans down.   By Mark Mason                             @MMason00
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