COMMENT By Alex Stevens
Georginio Wijnaldum and Roberto Firmino should be axed for Liverpool’s Premier League trip to Tottenham on Saturday.
The duo have started both of the Merseysiders’ opening two matches of the league campaign but should pay the price for their insipid showings at Burnley last weekend.
Liverpool produced some exhilarating play to win a 4-3 thriller at Arsenal in their opener but it would be glossing over reality to suggest that was the perfect away performance.
Jordan Henderson and Wijnaldum were over-run in central midfield for the opening half-hour, and that was once again the case at Burnley as Jurgen Klopp’s team failed to dominate in the middle of the pitch.
With Lucas Leiva down the pecking order, Emre Can is the closest Liverpool have to a holding midfielder and the Germany international needs to start at White Hart Lane to enable the visitors to gain a measure of control.
Can is a slight doubt heading into the match after suffering a knock to his ankle in the midweek win over Burton, but Klopp has stated that it isn’t a serious injury.
The Germany international started his first match of the season against the lower league outfit and produced the kind of smooth, unflustered display that makes it easy to see why he is regarded as Liverpool’s first-choice central midfielder.
With Sadio Mane back fit and firing after being so badly missed at Burnley, one of the holy trinity of Philippe Coutinho, Roberto Firmino and Adam Lallana will need to be benched to create room for an authentic spearhead, which should be Daniel Sturridge after his two midweek goals.
The England international, unquestionably the club’s best finisher, can lead the front line, with Divock Origi held in reserve to bring pace and power to the attack if needed.
Coutinho is reportedly struggling with an injury, which could provide a lifeline for Firmino, who summed up the team’s excellence either side of half-time at Arsenal and subsequent bluntness at Burnley.
If Coutinho makes it, his fellow Brazilian should suffer a rare demotion.
At the back, Joel Matip’s smooth display at Burton should give him the nod over Ragnar Klavan to partner Dejan Lovren at the heart of the defence.
In other Liverpool team news, Jordan Henderson has claimed that his team-mate can be as good as Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez.