COMMENT By Matt Farr
Jurgen Klopp should axe youngster Ben Woodburn from his Liverpool starting eleven to face West Brom in the Premier League on Sunday.
The 17-year-old was handed his first Premier League start in the recent victory over Stoke, but should be dropped from the side to accommodate the return of two of Liverpool’s most prized attacking assets.
Philippe Coutinho and Roberto Firmino must both be reinstated into the starting eleven, after Klopp’s decision to leave them on the bench against Stoke almost backfired.
Liverpool had been trailing 1-0 at half-time when the pair were swiftly introduced, but both were on the scoresheet to bail them out with a 2-1 victory.
Trent Alexander-Arnold should also be axed, with defensive-midfield stalwart Lucas Leiva replacing Ragnar Klavan in a total of three changes.
The Liverpool defence has been in reasonably good form of late, but they failed to keep a clean sheet in any of their last seven Premier League games.
However, a back-five of Simon Mignolet, James Milner, Dejan Lovren, Joel Matip and Nathaniel Clyne gives them the best possible chance of keeping a clean sheet.
The added inclusion of Lucas in a holding-midfield role should give them further defensive security for the upcoming clash with West Brom, who have recently snatched results against both Arsenal and Manchester United.
A partnership between midfield duo Georginio Wijnaldum and Emre Can must also be persisted with, particularly in the continued absence of the injured Jordan Henderson and Adam Lallana.
Liverpool’s best attacking three, meanwhile, will see Firmino and Coutinho operate in free roles behind Divock Origi.
However, Firmino should also be given license to swap roles with Origi, having excelled in a centre-forward role for much of the season.
Firmino has scored 11 goals this season, and is the club’s most reliably goalscoring threat with Sadio Mane out for the remainder of the season.
Liverpool can tighten their grip on a potential top four place, as well as qualification for the Champions League, with a victory over high-flying West Brom at the Hawthorns.
In other Liverpool team news, Klopp has revealed when Henderson and Lallana could return for Liverpool.