Injury Update: Jurgen Klopp To Gamble With Philippe Coutinho Against Manchester United
A few weeks ago, Liverpool would have been looking forward to their trip to Old Trafford to face Manchester United.
The Reds would have identified the fixture as an opportunity to extend their lead over their arch-rivals in the league table.
Now, though, they’re probably a bit fearful.
United have won nine matches in a row in all competitions and could go to within two points of Jurgen Klopp’s side with a victory.
As for Liverpool, they’re yet to win in 2017 with a 2-2 draw with Sunderland in the league, a 0-0 draw with Plymouth Argyle in the FA Cup and a 1-0 defeat to Southampton in their EFL Cup semi-final first-leg.
Their recent ‘sticky patch’ has coincided with the hectic fixture list as they try to make do with some injuries.
Key defender Joel Matip has been missing, so too has captain Jordan Henderson, while Sadio Mane is now on African Cup of Nations duty with Senegal.
The Brazilian came on for the last 30 minutes and looked bright as he attempted – but failed – to get his side back into the match.
That cameo performance has given Klopp a very tough decision to make. Does he risk playing him from the start against United? Or does he remain patient and bring him on as a substitute again?
Well, according to the Mirror, Klopp has made his decision.
That’s because they’re claiming that the German boss is ready to throw Coutinho into the deep end after he’s seen his side draw blanks in their last two matches.
Liverpool have desperately missed Mane’s pace in those two matches and, with no real replacement for the winger, Klopp has realised he has very little choice but to start Coutinho.
Coutinho, although not as quick, has the ability to draw in defenders and beat them – something that could be crucial as Liverpool look to play on the counter-attack against Jose Mourinho’s side.
In his pre-match press conference he said: It is a nice question,” he said of how he will cope with life without Mane, “But, yes, we have a plan.
“We have a specific solution and then we will think about the next game. We will try to figure out which one works best.
“There is no player exactly like Sadio. But it is not a problem, we will find solutions.
“We know there is a difference between fit and match-fit, but of course it’s Phil, we have another three days to prepare him for United.
“It was the best news [of the night] at Southampton, that Phil is back. You can see immediately how important it is. He will of course not be 100 percent, but he can be important for us, and it is good he is back.”
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