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Jurgen Klopp admits he cannot take risks against Arsenal with team selection

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 6 Jan 2024

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Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp admits he cannot afford to take too many risks with his team selection for the FA Cup third round tie at Arsenal.

Even though his side are already just two matches away from Wembley with a Carabao Cup semi-final first-leg at home to Fulham on Wednesday the Reds boss said he could not make huge changes against the Gunners.

Three will be enforced with forward Mohamed Salah and Wataru Endo at the African Nations Cup and Asian Cup respectively while fellow midfielder Dominik Szoboszlai has been ruled out for at least two matches with a hamstring problem.

The return of Alexis Mac Allister, out for a month with a knee injury, and Ryan Gravenberch are likely to fill the gaps in the middle of the pitch but the troublesome spot is Salah’s right-wing berth.

Harvey Elliott played there in the League Cup quarter-final with West Ham and the 19-year-old Kaide Gordon did the job in the Europa League defeat to Union Saint Gilloise but it seems unlikely the teenager will be pitched straight in at the Emirates.

“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.”

Liverpool recalled Owen Beck, nephew of all-time top goalscorer Ian Rush, from a loan spell at Dundee as both left-backs Andy Robertson and Kostas Tsimikas are injured, although the former is expected to be back by the end of the month.

The 21-year-old cannot feature against Arsenal due to an existing Scottish League Cup ban but should help to give Joe Gomez, standing in at left-back a break, with Klopp saying: “In Dundee he made big steps, and now the situation here is clear: we lose two of our left-backs so we think it makes sense if a boy we like is available for us.”

While December was busy Liverpool could have seven matches this month if they progress on Sunday.

And the nightmare scenario would be a draw which forces a replay and interrupts what should be the weekend of their scheduled Premier League break.

“I think a rematch against Arsenal would really not be helpful because it just doesn’t fit in, would kill the winter break,” added Klopp.

“We have the most busy month you can imagine in December and then some teams obviously don’t play that often in January. We don’t have that.

“For us it is a normal month: busy but not crazy busy like December where there were five games in 13 days. That just makes no sense, but that’s how it is.

“I think rhythm helps but in the end we will see that.”

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