Liverpool predicted line-up v Bournemouth: Will Wataru Endo make his debut?
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After a rather frustrating display in the 1-1 draw at Stamford Bridge last Sunday, Liverpool get the chance to make an immediate improvement with a repeat of the most one-sided match of last season – but will Liverpool’s new defensive midfield signing be a part of the plan?
The Reds thrashed Scott Parker’s beleaguered Bournemouth 9-0 just under a year ago, equalling the Premier League’s record scoreline and calling time on Parker’s reign in Dorset. Much has changed since then, however, at both clubs, and Andoni Iraola’s Cherries, who started their season with a 1-1 draw of their own at home to West Ham United, will likely be tougher to crack.
One of Liverpool’s major problems against Chelsea was their distinctly imbalanced midfield, with Alexis Mac Allister installed as the most defensive man in the midfield three and no true holding midfielder available for selection. That situation has now been remedied with Wataru Endo completing his move from VfB Stuttgart this afternoon.
Will Endo go straight into the starting eleven? Or will Jürgen Klopp keep faith with his team from the opening day? Let’s see where we are ahead of Saturday’s 3pm kick-off at Anfield.
Goalkeeper & Defence
No changes are expected at the back, with Alisson, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Ibrahima Konaté, Virgil van Dijk and Andrew Robertson all expected to be fit and raring to go. Joël Matip could push for inclusion over Konaté, but the Frenchman seems to be Klopp’s preferred centre-back for the time being.
Klopp made it reasonably clear during his press conference that Endo isn’t likely to start tomorrow - he “will train this afternoon but I don’t know if he can play”, which makes his being promoted straight to the starting eleven seem a little unlikely. The veteran Japanese midfielder has had a full pre-season in Germany, however, and there are no fitness concerns reported – but a bench role with some gametime as a second-half substitute seems like the best-case scenario for now.
That means World Cup winner Mac Allister will most likely remain as the most conservative of the midfield three, with Harvey Elliott pushing for a starting job over Cody Gakpo. Thiago Alcântara and Stefan Bajcetic are not expected to feature as they continue their recoveries from previous long-term injuries.
A disappointing first outing of the season for Diogo Jota means that he’s the most likely to make way if Klopp decides to give Darwin Nuñez his first start of the campaign following an impressive pre-season performance, but Klopp has rotated his front line enough since the departure of Sadio Mané that there’s no real certainty over who will feature.
Luis Díaz and the departed Roberto Firmino both scored a brace against Bournemouth during the rout at Anfield last August, and if Klopp decides to run with a similar striking situation that an attack spearheaded by Darwin appears to make the most sense. Mohamed Salah will almost certainly retain his starting position despite his post-substitution tiff last Sunday – unless the evident frustration signalled something much more substantial than most people suspect.
Full predicted line-up
Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Konaté, Van Dijk, Robertson; Mac Allister, Szoboszlai, Elliott; Salah, Darwin, Díaz.