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Jurgen Klopp faces Takumi Minamino dilemma as Liverpool prepare for midfield shake up



After a week which saw the AXA Training Centre closed and training cancelled because of a suspected Covid-19 outbreak, Liverpool managed to field a mixture of youth and experience to beat Shrewsbury Town on Sunday.

The likes of Virgil van Dijk, Fabinho and Andy Robertson started alongside starlets such as Kaide Gordon and Conor Bradley to clinch a 4-1 victory over the League One side and book the Reds’ place in the fourth round of the FA Cup.

Yet with Jurgen Klopp revealing after the game that the majority of his players’ Covid test results had been false positives, with Trent Alexander-Arnold the only confirmed new case, the uncertainty regarding who Liverpool actually have both available and unavailable for selection at the moment continues.

The Reds are next in action in the Carabao Cup on Thursday night, hosting Arsenal at Anfield in what is now a semi-final first leg after their trip to the Emirates was postponed last week.

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With the AXA Training Centre open again, Liverpool will at least be able to avoid the disruptions that preceded their clash with Shrewsbury and train as normal.

With hopefully more senior players available for selection as a result, we look at some of the changes Reds boss Klopp could be considering for his side to face the Gunners.

Kelleher keeps his place

With Alisson testing positive for Covid-19 along with Roberto Firmino and Joel Matip at the start of the month, missing the trip to Chelsea in the process, he was the only one of the trio not back in the matchday squad to face Shrewsbury, with the outfield duo named as substitutes after limited training following their release from isolation.

It would appear logical to assume that the Brazilian shot-stopper has too completed his spell in isolation and should be eligible for selection against Arsenal as a result.

However, it would be cruel to drop Caoimhin Kelleher considering he has been first-choice in the domestic cup competitions when available.

Trent Alexander-Arnold should return to training before the visit of Arsenal, but Liverpool would be wise not to throw him straight back into the starting XI following his own stint in isolation.

But it was unclear why potential right-back alternatives Neco Williams and Joe Gomez were both missing from the matchday squad against the Shrews, with the duo normally both likely to start in domestic cup matches, meaning Conor Bradley could keep his place as a result.

With it being a semi-final, Virgil van Dijk could keep his place, too, with Joel Matip and Ibrahima Konate competing to start at centre-back, while Andy Robertson and Kostas Tsimikas battle for the left-back berth.

Fabinho and…?

Fabinho and Curtis Jones were the only senior midfielders named in the matchday squad to face Shrewsbury, having already returned after testing positive for Covid-19 last month.

With it unclear whether Jordan Henderson, James Milner and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain were absent with suspected Covid, injured or just rested, the duo are logical choices to start again against Arsenal on Thursday.

But with Alexander-Arnold the only confirmed new Covid case, the trio could all be available to return against the Gunners, though Tyler Morton will be on standby to retain his place in the engine room if not.

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New-look front three

With Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane away at the Africa Cup of Nations, Liverpool were always going to need to unleash a new-look front three for their League Cup semi-final ties with Arsenal.

Firmino returned from isolation after testing positive with Covid-19 to score off the bench against Shrewsbury, and should start against the Gunners as a result. Meanwhile, Takumi Minamino also made his return from injury on Sunday and will be in contention, too. However, Klopp hinted the Japan international had been been slightly rushed back after describing the clash with the Shrews as part of his rehab.

However, with Divock Origi seemingly still injured and with it unclear why Diogo Jota was absent against Shrewsbury, the identity of the Reds’ third forward is up in the air.

The Portuguese would be an obvious choice if available, though Klopp will inevitably also have one eye on next Sunday’s visit of Brentford to Anfield, with Oxlade-Chamberlain an alternative in attack if he too can feature.

But if senior players are still missing or coming into the match off limited training, Kaide Gordon impressed enough against Shrewsbury to justify retaining his position if the situation called for it.

Potential Liverpool XI (4-3-3): Kelleher; Bradley, Konate, Van Dijk, Tsimikas; Morton, Fabinho, Jones; Gordon, Firmino, Minamino.





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