COMMENT By Alex Stevens
Jurgen Klopp is not afraid to be ruthless when it comes to the composition of the Liverpool front line.
The German should once again swing the axe for Friday night’s Premier League showdown against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.
Daniel Sturridge led the line impressively in last weekend’s 4-1 hammering of Leicester as he returned to the team at the expense of Philippe Coutinho, who was held back on the bench after his late return from international duty.
Friday’s clash at Stamford Bridge will provide a different sort of challenge for Klopp’s men as they take on one of the Premier League’s in-form teams.
The manager will not forget last season’s landmark 3-1 win at Chelsea when Coutinho and Roberto Firmino spearheaded a superb counter-attacking display.
Klopp will once again pick a team that is best able to pick apart the John Terry-less hosts’ defence on the counter-attack, which should mean Firmino spearheading the attack for the fourth time in five league matches.
That would mean the unfortunate Sturridge once again being relegated to the bench.
Coutinho was outstanding in Liverpool’s exhilarating 4-3 win at Arsenal in their Premier League opener and, while he has subsequently not hit those heights, his mobility and creativity means he must return against a defence that is likely to include the error-prone David Luiz.
With Sadio Mane and Adam Lallana the team’s two outstanding players in the first month of the season, that mean Sturridge and Divock Origi being held in reserve.
Further back in the team, Klopp should start with the same back four who impressed at Tottenham, where Joel Matip made the first of two super-smooth Premier League starts in a highly impressive start to Liverpool career.
Fit-again Dejan Lovren, who missed out against Leicester due to a facial injury, is set to return to the starting XI ahead of Lucas Leiva, who was guilty of gifting Jamie Vardy a goal at the weekend.
With Klopp’s best central midfielder Emre Can once again ruled out by an ankle injury, there is no pressing need for Liverpool to tinker in the middle of the park.
There were more promising signs against Leicester from the partnership of Jordan Henderson and Georginio Wijnaldum, who have been paired for the opening four league matches even though neither is a natural anchorman.
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.