Liverpool will be without Adam Lallana for a month after he sustained an injury while playing for England, so we took a look at how the Reds might line up without him.
Liverpool received some bad news over the international break, as Adam Lallana sustained a thigh injury while playing for England against Lithuania. He’s expected to miss the next four weeks of Premier League action.
What does this mean for Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool side? How will they cope without Lallana, and who will fill the gap he leaves as he recovers from injury? The Merseyside derby is on Saturday, so Klopp needs to come up with an answer to these questions quickly.
Lallana has started almost all of Liverpool’s league games this season, and his form of late has been outstanding. His creativity has made him crucial in linking Liverpool’s midfield and attack, and has translated into a lot of chances created and goals scored. His work rate is perhaps even more important, however, as his energy out of possession often sets the tempo for the Reds’ pressing game. In short, he’s a big miss.
The good news for Liverpool fans is that they have options. Klopp has favored the 4-3-3 formation this season, and that’s unlikely to change now. The question is whether he goes for a more attacking or defensive 4-3-3 in the absence of Lallana.
Jordan Henderson has missed Liverpool’s last few games due to injury. If he’s fit to return this weekend, Klopp will almost certainly keep his preferred front three of Philippe Coutinho, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane, and play Henderson in midfield alongside Georginio Wijnaldum and Emre Can.
If Henderson isn’t fit, Klopp faces a more difficult choice. He could replace Lallana with Lucas Leiva, Kevin Stewart or James Milner. Milner is the best of the three, but he’s been playing well at left-back, and Klopp doesn’t seem to trust Alberto Moreno (understandably). Lucas is the next best option
The other option is for Klopp to embrace his side’s attacking strengths, to slot Divock Origi into the front three and move one of Coutinho, Firmino or Mane into midfield. Coutinho’s the most likely of the three to drop back — he’s played there before and has proven his ability to create from deeper positions — but Firmino and Mane are better defenders, and it would be interesting to see their impact if played in midfield. Then again, the Merseyside derby is probably not the best time for positional experiments.
The final alternative is a change of formation, most likely to a 4-2-3-1. This could see Can and Wijnaldum paired in midfield, with Coutinho, Firmino and Mane behind Origi up top. Klopp has enough options to stick with the 4-3-3, so this seems unlikely, but Lallana has become so crucial to the success of Liverpool’s preferred formation, it wouldn’t be a total shock to see Klopp try something new.