Paul Merson urges Jurgen Klopp to start ‘patient’ Liverpool star against Manchester City
'Liverpool have a few selection headaches.'
Liverpool travel to the Etihad in a battle between first and second in the Premier League.
Victory for the away side would likely see them move to the top of the table but it will be a tough task, especially as the Citizens have never lost to the Reds at home in the league since Pep Guardiola arrived in 2016.
Klopp also a number of selection dilemmas to deal with in regards to his front three and whether to go with Kostas Tsimikas or Joe Gomez at left-back.
It will also be interesting to see what three-man midfield is selected, as the manager has chopped and changed his line-up frequently this season as he looks to find the perfect balance between all his new signings.
It appears that Alexis Mac Allister and Dominik Szoboszlai are undroppable and Merson believes that Endo, who has scarcely played in the league since moving to Anfield, should start alongside them against City.
‘Liverpool have a few selection headaches. I think they’ll play Joe Gomez at left-back instead of Kostas Tsimikas,’ the Arsenal legend told Sportskeeda.
‘He is more of a defender and he’ll tuck in. You’ve gotta be able to defend against City.
‘In midfield, I’d probably play Wataru Endo and push Alexis Mac Allister in the “number 8” position. He keeps the ball and that’s the kind of thing you want to do against Man City.
‘If you want to beat City, you’ve got to capitalise on that extra pass that goes through the lines. You need players who can pick that pass.
‘Endo is the man for me here because he is patient and there is the added advantage of unlocking Mac Allister’s full potential.’
The Japan captain has started just two league games since his surprise move from Stuttgart to Liverpool, though he has played plenty of minutes in the Europa League and Carabao Cup.
But even with the 30-year-old in the team, Merson isn’t sure it will be enough for Liverpool to beat City, adding: ‘What a game to start off the weekend although we didn’t need this one to be an afternoon kickoff.
‘It’s a great game. People keep telling me that Manchester City won’t win the league again this season as they’re not as strong as they were last term. But we know how they peak towards the business end of the season. If they lose this game, then the race for the title race gets blown wide open.
‘If City win this one, I’d be worried for the rest of the league. Liverpool might not be at their best as well as they have a lot of South American players who will return late after their international commitments.
‘But if you look at Liverpool’s attack, they have some great options. They have five forwards who are going to get double figures this season.
‘If Haaland is fit, then I think City edge this. I think there will be goals in this one. Both managers play an attacking brand of football. However, it’s tough to go against City at home.
‘Liverpool have shown that they can be really shaky when they come back after the international break. I remember them getting blown away in the first half of that game against Wolverhampton Wanderers under similar circumstances.
‘Considering everything, I predict a narrow home win for Manchester City against their title rivals. Predicted scoreline: Manchester City 2-1 Liverpool.’
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