Liverpool have got a problem in their midfield and manager Jurgen Klopp will have a selection dilemma for their Manchester United game.
There is essentially one position available and it looks like it’ll be a straight shoot between James Milner, Georginio Wijnaldum and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.
Dutch international Wijnaldum has been Klopp’s preferred choice over the course of the season so far, but a limp and lifeless display against Newcastle United led to calls from fans for the former Magpie to be dropped.
Milner has hardly featured this term – but with the return of Philippe Coutinho could he be the missing piece of the jigsaw that provides stability, reliability and lets Jordan Henderson and Coutinho roam further up the pitch?
While Oxlade-Chamberlain chose Liverpool over Chelsea because he thought he’d get more chances to play in midfield – and while that has not yet materialised, the game against the Red Devils could be the ex-Southampton man’s time to shine.
For a start, Wijnaldum should get the axe. His form has been poor during 2017/2018 and even though he’s a home ground hero, the former PSV Eindhoven star doesn’t deserve to play. If Klopp rewards mediocrity, what message does that send to the rest of the squad?
So that leaves the Ox and Milner. Out of the two, my heart says the former and my head says the latter. It’s so true that the elder of the pair is a boring choice, but sometimes boring is nice. Boring is a 1-0 win. Boring keeps cleans sheets and wins league titles.
The ex-Manchester City man could also protect the defense better than the current midfield three have and allow Coutinho and Emre Can or Henderson to roam further forward. If anything, Can’s firecracker of a goal for Germany this week shows he can operate effectively further up the field.
Oxlade-Chamberlain, on the other hand, has the potential to be a very good player and the antithesis of Milner. He was signed on the promise of central midfield action and now is the time to give that to him.
He’s a good athlete and posses a wide range of skills. The former Arsenal man has also shown glimpses of his ability through the middle and a big game like the United one should bring the best out of good players.
A trio of Coutinho, Henderson/Can and Oxlade-Chamberlain should also get fans licking their lips and will certainly pose some challenges to Jose Mourinho and his Red Devils.
More importantly, in a home fixture Klopp needs to take the game by the scruff of the neck and that’s why the Ox should start on Saturday.