Liverpool expected 4-3-3 v Swansea: Striker axed in nine changes
By Will Butcher
Jurgen Klopp is set to welcome back his first-team stars by making nine changes to face Swansea in Saturday’s early kick-off at Anfield.
The Merseyside giants play host to Paul Clement’s struggling Swans after Klopp’s fringe stars secured the Reds’ place in the fourth round of the FA Cup with a 1-0 win against Plymouth.
Just two players are expected to retain their place in Klopp’s side from Wednesday night’s narrow win against the League Two side, in Philippe Coutinho and Trent Alexander-Arnold.
That means Loris Karius, Joe Gomez, Lucas Leiva, Alberto Moreno, Kevin Stewart, Ovie Ejaria, Ben Woodburn, Divock Origi and Daniel Sturridge drop out of the starting eleven.
Returning to the side are Simon Mignolet, Dejan Lovren, Ragnar Klavan, James Milner, Jordan Henderson, Emre Can, Georginio Wijnaldum, Adam Lallana and Roberto Firmino.
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Klopp is likely to give Coutinho his first Premier League start since injuring his ankle in the 2-0 win against David Moyes’ Sunderland back in November.
The Brazilian started against Plymouth and looked sharp after substitute appearances against Man United and Southampton, providing the assist for the goal, while Alexander-Arnold deputises again for Nathaniel Clyne.
England international Clyne is likely not to be risked against Swansea, as he continues to recover from a rib injury.
Belgium international Mignolet has kept three clean sheets in his six games since returning as Klopp’s first-choice goalkeeper, following a number of high-profile mistakes from Karius.
Versatile star Milner replaces Moreno at left-back, while Lovren and Klavan will be hoping to build on their top-draw display against Man United with a strong performance on Saturday.
Joel Matip is still waiting clearance from FIFA following his fall-out with Cameroon and he might be back if the decision goes his way.
Captain Henderson has shone at the base of Liverpool’s midfield this season, orchestrating the tempo of Liverpool’s possession. He replaces Stewart, while Can and Wijnaldum come in for academy prospects Ejaria and Woodburn.
Teen hero Woodburn’s omission from the side will see Coutinho move into the Reds’ front three, while Wednesday night’s goalless duo Origi and Sturridge will be overlooked for Lallana and Firmino.
Klopp will be expecting his side to secure three points at home to Swansea, who have won just one Premier League match in seven encounters.
A win could see Liverpool move to within four points of league leaders Chelsea, if Antonio Conte’s side fail to beat Hull at Stamford Bridge.
In other Liverpool news, fans react on Twitter as Sadio Mane scores his second African Cup of Nations goal against Zimbabwe.