Liverpool’s manager, Jurgen Klopp, admits he can’t take many risks in team selection for the FA Cup third-round clash with Arsenal.
Despite being only two matches away from Wembley with a Carabao Cup semi-final first-leg at home against Fulham on Wednesday, the Reds boss stated that he could not implement significant changes against the Gunners.
Forward Mohamed Salah and Wataru Endo will be absent due to their commitments in the African Nations Cup and Asian Cup, respectively. A hamstring problem has ruled out fellow midfielder Dominik Szoboszlai for at least two matches, leaving three players unavailable.
Alexis Mac Allister, who has been sidelined for a month with a knee injury, is expected to make a return, along with Ryan Gravenberch, to fill the gaps in the middle of the pitch. However, the right-wing position, particularly Salah’s berth, remains a concern.
In the League Cup quarter-final against West Ham, Harvey Elliott played in Salah’s right-wing position, and in the Europa League defeat to Union Saint Gilloise, the 19-year-old Kaide Gordon took on the role. However, it appears unlikely that the teenager will be immediately placed in the lineup at the Emirates.
Salah’s absence became a major concern for Klopp
Klopp said: “If you bring a boy who didn’t play for five or six weeks, it’s very rare he can play to his best. That’s why so far I think we did that quite well,” said Klopp of his rotation policy this season.
“But actually I am not sure if Arsenal is now a game to rotate. I don’t know 100 percent if we have the opportunity to do so to be honest.
“We have players available and we can line a good team up. If that looks then afterwards like rotation, I don’t know yet.
“We’ve had six days between the games (since Newcastle on New Year’s Day) and there’s no need for rotation.
“You can say, ‘OK, three days later we have another game’. Yes, that’s true, but we can think about that when the other game is over. That’s what we do usually.
“And both have the same importance, there is nothing in between. We want to win these games, we want to go to the final but we want to go to the next round as well but it is probably the most tricky draw you can get.”