Liverpool have confirmed their team news as we countdown to kickoff against Chelsea and the away side is hit by COVID-19 and injury.
The Blues are on 42 points and the Reds are on 41 but Manchester City are on 53 so whoever wins will automatically become the favourites to challenge the champions for the title.
Alisson Becker, Joel Matip and Roberto Firmino are the three players that Jurgen Klopp referred to when he revealed three new Liverpool players had tested positive for the virus.
The German is also absent as he tested positive as well and so Pep Lijnders takes his place in the dugout.
Far from ideal for Liverpool, with Alisson Becker, Joel Matip and Roberto Firmino all ruled out of today's game with Chelsea having returned positive Covid tests earlier this week.
Robertson suspended, Thiago, Origi, Minamino, Phillips and Elliott injured. Klopp absent too#LFC
— Neil Jones (@neiljonesgoal) January 2, 2022
Caoimhín Kelleher comes into the starting XI to replace Alisson while Matip’s place is taken up by Ibrahima Konate, who has looked better and better with each game he has played.
Virgil van Dijk partners him and the centre-backs are flanked, predictably, by Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson.
Firmino likely would have started on the bench but it’s worrying as he will now miss 10 days due to isolation protocol and will be unavailable for Liverpool’s EFL semi-final first leg against Arsenal and the FA Cup tie with Shrewsbury.
As predicted before kickoff, Thiago misses out due to injury and Jurgen Klopp has opted to go with James Milner in midfield with Jordan Henderson and Fabinho while the front three of Sadio Mane, Diogo Jota and Mohamed Salah starts together again.
Liverpool’s African talent will leave for Cameroon after full-time as they take their leave to take part in the AFCON and so this is the last time we will see Mane, Salah and Keita for around a month depending on their respective nation’s progress in the tournament.
The Reds need a win today to restore a little bit of hope that they can still win the Premier League this season but with Man City 11 points clear two days into the New Year, it’s looking nigh on impossible.
Starting XI: Kelleher: Alexander-Arnold, Konate, Van Dijk, Tsimikas; Fabinho, Milner, Henderson; Salah, Jota, Mane.
Subs: Adrian, Keita, Gomez, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Jones, Beck, Williams, Morton, Pitaluga