Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has decisions to make for the upcoming match against Bournemouth on Sunday, January 21st, with a 4.30 pm kick-off.
The Reds enjoy an 11-day break between their Carabao Cup semi-final first-leg win over Fulham and their journey down to the south coast to take on Andoni Iraola’s Cherries.
Remarkably, Liverpool secured victories in the absence of Mohamed Salah in the last two matches. The FA Cup clash against Arsenal witnessed an own goal by Jakub Kiwior and a goal by Luis Diaz, while Curtis Jones and Cody Gakpo found the net in the triumph over Fulham, during which Trent Alexander-Arnold was unavailable.
Jurgen Klopp faces the challenge of determining the optimal configuration for his forward line against Bournemouth. In the Arsenal game, Gakpo assumed a midfield role alongside Harvey Elliott on the right wing, Darwin Nunez as the No. 9, and Diaz on the left wing.
Conversely, for the encounter with Fulham at Anfield, both Nunez and Gakpo started on the bench, and Diogo Jota operated in the central attacking role. Notably, it was Nunez, entering as a substitute, who provided two assists, while Gakpo demonstrated superior statistics in shots on target, key passes, and dribbles compared to Jota. Klopp faces the task of deciding on the most effective forward line setup to tackle Bournemouth.
Given his impactful performance against Fulham and the fact that he has contributed with a goal and three assists in his last four appearances, Nunez is optimistic about earning a starting spot at the Vitality Stadium. The question arises – where will he fit in? Luis Diaz, who recently showed some renewed energy on the left, has played the full 90 minutes in the last two matches.
However, with the 11-day break, fatigue might not be a major concern. Considering Diaz’s lively display in the last Premier League match against Newcastle, there’s a possibility he could start against Adam Smith.
Klopp now faces the dilemma of choosing among Nunez, Gakpo, Jota, and Elliott for the remaining two positions. In the central role, Nunez could be favoured, even though Gakpo has started only one of the last three matches.
Gakpo, the Dutchman, showcased his scoring ability coming off the bench in both of his recent substitute appearances. Despite not starting as a striker since the Boxing Day victory at Burnley, where he earned an assist and had a disallowed goal, he might find himself on the bench once again.
This decision could be strategic, possibly with the intention of having him start in the second leg at Fulham a few days later. On the other hand, Jota, who recently completed his first full 90 minutes since his injury comeback, had an impactful performance against Fulham on Wednesday night.
The Portuguese player showcased his usual energy, although he didn’t contribute a goal or assist during this match, in contrast to his impactful cameos against Burnley, Newcastle, and Arsenal. Notably, he played a pivotal role in regaining possession for Jones’ goal and came close to scoring on multiple occasions.
Elliott, recognized for his impressive engine, lacks the same pace in transition as Diaz, Nunez, and Jota. There’s a possibility of deploying him in midfield alongside Curtis Jones and Alexis Mac Allister, unless Dominik Szoboszlai is deemed fit enough to start.
In the forward trio, Klopp is banking on Nunez to replicate the finishing prowess he displayed in Liverpool’s Carabao Cup victory at this very stadium in November. The manager also hopes for Diaz and Jota to exhibit ruthlessness in front of goal, compensating for the absence of the creative force, Alexander-Arnold.
In other Liverpool news, Liverpool Injury Updates and Return Dates Ahead of Premier League Clash at Bournemouth