Midfield problems for Klopp against City?

Liverpool

Jurgen Klopp confirmed on Monday that Jordan Henderson will not recover from his foot injury in time to face Manchester City at the weekend. He could instead be in line for a return to the side following the international break and the game against Everton. As he nears a return to action and with James Milner still deputising at left back for the foreseeable future, who will be in line to anchor the midfield?

Scoring three and assisting twice in his last six games, Georginio Wijnaldum has hit a rich vein of form for the club and could be securing his place long term. Former Liverpool midfielder Didi Hamann has stated that Wijnaldum could be the man the team have not had since Steven Gerrard left in 2014. Hamann said recently “I like him a lot. He showed at Newcastle that he’s a goal scoring midfielder and I think he brings a lot more to the team.” Adding “since Gerrard left, we lacked goals sometimes from midfield. The more players scoring goals, the more it takes pressure off the front three.” It is not only his goals which have helped Liverpool of late, it is his general midfield play which have seen the side turn their dip in form around to move back into contention for the top four.

Adding more goals and supply from other areas of the pitch has been important over recent weeks as those players performing at the start of the season have fallen away a little. With five goals and five assists at the start of the season Philippe Coutinho was a key player during Liverpool’s good run. Since his ankle injury in January however, the Brazilian has struggled to impact on the side, scoring just the consolation at Leicester. It is not only his end product which has suffered, his pass completion has fallen and he attempting over one shot less per game. After missing the game against Burnley, it is unclear at the moment what Roberto Firmino’s involvement will be during the game at the Etihad this weekend. Klopp however does remain optimistic of his involvement as the forward returns to training.

Emre Can will likely keep a place in the side but with his contract renewal in question his long term position could be questioned until his future is confirmed. There are rumours of his wage demands being too high but these reports were denied. The other hold up on negotiations could be the possible lack of Champions League football for the club next season. Although in the top four at the moment, Liverpool will undoubtedly have a tense battle until the end of the season to secure qualification. One of the sides who are reportedly interested in the German midfielder is Juventus.