Liverpool are preparing to take on Manchester United and Jurgen Klopp needs to take a risk with Nathaniel Phillips’ fitness and start the 23-year-old.
A trip to Old Trafford is looming large for the Premier League champions and there’s a lot riding on it for both sides.
For Manchester United, a win would simultaneously condemn Liverpool to a season without Champions League football and would mean that Manchester City’s win at Selhurst isn’t the game they became champions.
How important is a win at Old Trafford?
The Anfield outfit could be seven points adrift of the top four if they lose and Chelsea beat Fulham but a win would keep their hopes alive going into the end of season run-in.
Not only would missing out on Champions League football next season be disappointing for fans but it would also have dire ramifications for the club’s revenue streams. Earlier this week the club announced the effects that the pandemic had on their financials, recording a £46million loss.
It may well impact Jurgen Klopp’s ability to attract the players he wants to Anfield, with the top players in Europe all wanting to play in the top club competition.
Nathaniel Phillips could be the key to victory for Liverpool
The 23-year-old central defender has played a lot more football this season than he would ever have dared dream of.
Phillips is a major injury doubt for Liverpool after missing the games against Leeds United and Newcastle United. Both games ended in 1-1 draws due to poor finishing and the Reds lack of an aerial presence in defence.
Leeds equalised from a corner in the 87th minute thanks to a Diego Llorente while Arsenal’s Joe Willock on loan at Newcastle capitalised on a second ball from a long pass into the box to win an unexpected point at Anfield.
With Phillips, Liverpool would have been able to resist the late charges from both Leeds and Newcastle.
Phillips starting would allow Fabinho to remain in midfield
The Brazilian simply has to start in central midfield as he is able to stop attacks before they even start and his interceptions and aggressive tackles simply don’t feature as much when he’s deployed as a centre-back.
Fabinho and Thiago Alcantara should start together in a double pivot while Firmino should play as the no.10.
This will allow Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane to play on the wings while Diogo Jota should spearhead the attack. An ultra-attacking lineup is necessary as the Reds look to break down Manchester United’s defence and secure the three points.
Predicted starting XI: Alisson, Trent, Phillips, Kabak, Trent, Fabinho, Thiago, Firmino, Mane, Salah, Jota.