After seeing Fabinho completely excluded from the squad due to a blow suffered against Atletico Madrid, Liverpool saw James Milner limp in the first half with a muscle injury before Naby Keita was stretched after the break at the following a tackle from Paul Pogba which earned the French a red card.
With Harvey Elliott and Thiago Alcantara already sidelined, and Gini Wijnaldum having left the club at the end of his contract this summer, the Reds are slowly heading towards an injury crisis in the engine room.
Memories of last year’s injury crisis at center-back will no doubt play in the minds of some anxious fans as a result, Liverpool leaving Old Trafford with Jordan Henderson, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Curtis Jones as the only options adapted seniors that Klopp can appeal to the midfielder.
Although it is too early to predict how long Keita, Milner or Fabinho could be out, Liverpool expect Thiago to be out until the international break in November and Elliott is a long-time absent.
READ MORE: Update on Naby Keita injury after Liverpool midfielder stretched in Manchester United win
LIVE: Manchester United 0-5 Liverpool reaction and beating analysis
NOTES: Two perfect 10s for Jurgen Klopp – Liverpool players noted in Old Trafford rout
And with the Reds’ midfielder options limited as a result, Theo Squires is examining the alternatives Klopp could turn to if his midfield injury crisis worsens.
Jurgen Klopp was rather perplexed when Gareth Southgate faced Trent Alexander-Arnold in midfield for England against Andorra in September.
“In this game, in a game where England are so dominant for example, or where we are as dominant as Trent could play in midfield, I would rather he be the six than in this case the eight,” he said. said the German at the time. .
“It’s possible, but why would you make the best right-back in the world a midfielder?” I don’t really understand this.
“As if the right-back position isn’t as important as the others. People who say I find it hard to understand how you might think that. “
Arguably the German is not a fan of such a change in role for the 22-year-old at the time, but, given that the England international has long been tipped for a future stint in the middle of pitch, it could be an option if Klopp’s hand is forced.
It wouldn’t be the first time, even if he has resisted such a role for Alexander-Arnold since 2018.
Perhaps his recent comments could see the full-back being used as a makeshift number six, with Neco Williams entering the right-back.
Change of training
The obvious solution to a midfield injury crisis would be to switch to a 4-2-3-1 formation and play Liverpool’s four first-choice strikers, with Klopp having all unleashed Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino and Diogo Jota together in the past.
Such a system would, however, force Jordan Henderson to stay in shape, as the Reds’ most defensive midfielder available, with Curtis Jones and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain able to turn as a partner.
Jones was used in a deeper position against Norwich City in the League Cup last month, but it was an experience Klopp quickly gave up at halftime.
Alternatively, Liverpool could make the most of their full collection of center-backs and switch to a 3-4-3 system with Joe Gomez or Ibrahima Konate alongside Virgil van Dijk and Joel Matip, with the Reds sure they are still have Nat Phillips in reserve.
However, unlike a 4-2-3-1, Liverpool have rarely used such a system in recent seasons when a three-way defense is something Klopp has publicly declared contempt for in the past.
“It’s a little uncomfortable to judge because every coach has the right to make their own decisions,” he said of Germany’s adoption of such a system at Euro 2020. “But I would play a four-way bib with this team. I don’t really like the system (back-three) ”.
The essential news from Liverpool FC
Roberto Firmino / Takumi Minamino
Could we see Roberto Firmino or Takumi Minamino play a deeper role?
The Brazilian is renowned for his versatility and possesses the attributes required to fulfill such a role, with Klopp calling him the “best attacking defender” he has ever seen in his life earlier this week.
Meanwhile, the Japan international has been tested in midfield on several occasions.
The two could potentially function as an offensive number eight on the right, making the connection with Mohamed Salah and Trent Alexander-Arnold as Naby Keita and Harvey Elliott have done with great success so far this season.
While this might not be a change you would want to try in a big Champions League game or a tough Premier League away game, it is a change that could be a fix in Anfield games. which are easier on paper.
The curve ball solution. Did you know that Joel Matip actually played a reasonable amount of midfield football for Schalke before his move to Anfield?
The Cameroonian is famous for his forward dribbles from the back and is clearly good with the ball, suggesting he could still fill such a role.
According to Transfermarkt, he has made 50 appearances in such a position during his career, both for club and country, although the last of them came in the 2013/14 season.
With the options Ibrahima Konate and Joe Gomez at center-backs, he could be free to play in midfield, although he is admittedly out of practice.
Leave your own player notes below
Introduced as a League Cup halftime substitute against Norwich City last month, Tyler Morton gained attention as a Liverpool midfielder after the break as he made his debut for the Reds.
Likely to play Preston North End in the fourth round of the competition midweek, the 18-year-old will have the chance to claim additional involvement in the coming weeks if the Reds’ numbers remain depleted.
And although he’s still just a teenager, Klopp found out last season that playing youngsters in their favorite roles may be a better solution than asking players to play out of position.