Liverpool are set to face Fulham in the first leg of the Carabao Cup semi-final tonight at 8pm with Jurgen Klopp expected to make several changes to his starting XI.
The match comes after Liverpool’s commendable victory in the FA Cup third-round against Arsenal. However, this win was overshadowed by more injury setbacks for the team. Trent Alexander-Arnold’s injury adds to the list, making him the 10th senior player sidelined under Klopp’s management.
For the next fixture at Anfield, Klopp could resting key players. Among those possibly being dropped are Alisson, Ibrahima Konate, Joe Gomez, Curtis Jones, and Darwin Nunez. Newsnow Liverpool provides insights into the potential lineup adjustments for Liverpool’s clash with Fulham.
Caoimhin Kelleher has been featured in the starting lineup for Liverpool in their previous seven matches in this tournament. His last absence from a League Cup game dates back to January 2022, specifically during the first leg of a semi-final. However, the Irish goalkeeper is expected to make a comeback in the upcoming match.
On Sunday, Alisson took to the pitch against Arsenal in the FA Cup. Meanwhile, Kelleher will be aiming for an improved performance compared to his recent outing against Fulham in the Premier League. During that match, while filling in for the injured Brazilian Alisson, Kelleher let in three goals. Despite this, Liverpool managed to secure a late 4-3 victory.
Defence: Bradley, Quansah, Van Dijk, Beck
Trent Alexander-Arnold is set to miss three weeks due to a knee injury. As a result, Conor Bradley is poised to fill his role. Bradley, who hails from Northern Ireland, showcased promise during his brief appearance against Arsenal. This match will mark his third starting opportunity in this cup for Liverpool.
The defensive lineup of Liverpool is under pressure with the unavailability of key players like Alexander-Arnold, Kostas Tsimikas, and Andy Robertson. Consequently, Joe Gomez is tasked with maintaining his fitness. Following his complete 90-minute performance at left-back against Arsenal, Owen Beck is anticipated to seize a chance in the upcoming match. Beck, previously on loan at Dundee where he consistently featured, is noteworthy as he is the great-nephew of Ian Rush, Liverpool’s leading goal scorer of all time.
On the defensive front, Virgil van Dijk has received medical clearance to make a comeback after being sidelined due to illness. Van Dijk, the team’s captain, is expected to don the armband. He might be joined by the promising Jarell Quansah in the central defense. Meanwhile, Ibrahima Konate is likely to be on the bench, with his absence from the starting lineup being attributed to the need for rest rather than any performance issues. Notably, Konate delivered an outstanding performance in their recent match in north London.
Midfield: Mac Allister, Gravenberch, Elliott
Alexis Mac Allister was substituted in the 59th minute during the match against Arsenal. This move aims to reinstate the Argentine as the primary No 6 player. The decision comes as Wataru Endo is currently participating in the Asian Cup in Qatar and will be unavailable for the rest of January.
Curtis Jones has shown commendable performance recently. However, due to the absence of several key players such as Endo, Dominik Szoboszlai, Thiago Alcantara, Stefan Bajcetic, and Alexander-Arnold, who can also play in midfield, it’s crucial for Jones to remain rested. Consequently, Ryan Gravenberch might get the opportunity to start, marking his first since the victory over Burnley on Boxing Day.
Harvey Elliott is expected to complete the midfield trio. The 20-year-old was substituted in the FA Cup match with 15 minutes remaining. His dynamic play will be essential, especially against a robust Fulham midfield that boasts players like Joao Palhinha. Manager Klopp is keen on providing 18-year-old Bobby Clark with more playing time, given his impressive performance at the senior level last Sunday.
Attack: Jota, Gakpo, Diaz
Luis Diaz showcased a resurgence of his form during the match against Newcastle and further exhibited his prowess by scoring a skillfully executed goal against Arsenal. Given his impressive performance, even after completing the entire game over the weekend, there’s a possibility he might be entrusted with maintaining this rhythm on the left flank. Following this fixture, there will be an 11-day hiatus before the subsequent Premier League encounter, an away game against Bournemouth.
While Darwin Nunez displayed considerable energy against Arsenal, he remained goalless. Considering this, he may find himself starting from the bench for the upcoming game. Cody Gakpo, who previously struggled in a No 8 position during the Arsenal match but made an impact by scoring as a substitute against Newcastle, could step in as the primary No 9.
In addition to this attacking setup, there’s a potential for Diogo Jota to receive his first starting opportunity since November 25, given Mohamed Salah’s absence due to the Africa Cup of Nations. Jota has delivered three dynamic performances off the bench against Burnley, Newcastle, and Arsenal. He aims to enhance his current nine-goal record for the season, particularly against Fulham, a team he hasn’t scored against in past encounters.
Liverpool predicted XI vs Fulham: Kelleher; Bradley, Quansah, Van Dijk, Beck; Mac Allister, Gravenberch, Elliott; Jota, Gakpo, Diaz
Predicted bench vs Fulham: Alisson; Chambers, Konate, Gomez; Jones, McConnell, Clark; Nunez, Gordon
Liverpool absentee list: Matip (injury), Robertson (injury), Tsimikas (injury), Alexander-Arnold (injury), Endo (Asian Cup), Szoboszlai (injury), Thiago (injury), Bajcetic (injury), Salah (AFCON), Doak (injury)
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