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Jurgen Klopp to face Naby Keita questions but Liverpool could unleash new weapon

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After the white-knuckle ride that was Brentford, on Saturday, Liverpool now turn their attention to matters of a European nature in the first half of a busy week.

It’s Sergio Conceicao’s Porto yet again for Jurgen Klopp as the Reds meet them in the Champions League for the fifth time in just over three-and-a-half years.

Klopp can take some comfort from the fact that his two visits to Estadio Do Dragao as Liverpool boss have seen an aggregate return of 9-1.

Plenty for the Liverpool analysis team to mull over then as they plot their way to six points in Group B.

The Champions League contingent fly out from Liverpool John Lennon airport on Monday after Klopp has spoken to the assembled media and a light training session has been undertaken.

READ MORE: Liverpool get Virgil van Dijk ‘shock’ as Jurgen Klopp warning goes unheeded

But what are the burning issues for the Reds boss to address before they fly out?

Here the ECHO assesses what the agenda could look like as the Champions League comes back into focus.

Keita latest

Midfield injuries have bitten at an inopportune time for Klopp.

With Harvey Elliott and Thiago Alcantara sidelined, the Reds lacked an element of control in the middle of the park on Saturday as they succumbed to the frenetic game Brentford desperately wanted to draw them into.

Naby Keita, though, is someone who could potentially calm things in the engine room.

But, as is usually the case with the Guinea international, questions over his fitness linger.

“Nothing really serious but keeps him out of the next game for sure,” was Klopp’s Friday diagnosis of Keita after he was withdrawn against Norwich on Tuesday after kicking the floor.

“Maybe [he’ll be out] a bit longer. We have to see there as well.

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“It’s nothing serious but it’s obviously painful and we have to see how we deal with that.”

Expect an update on Keita’s condition when Klopp speaks to the press on Tuesday.

With Manchester City to come to Anfield on Sunday, Klopp could use all his resources this week and a returning Keita would be a big help.

Defensive reaction

It was a collective off-night for Liverpool’s defence at the Brentford Community Stadium.

The Reds shipped as many goals in 90 minutes as they had across the previous seven games.

It would be harsh to be overly critical of what had otherwise been the best backline in the league so far, but Klopp will hope that normal service is resumed in Portugal.

Given their performances so far, it is easy to forget just how little football Virgil van Dijk and Joel Matip have played in 2021 and that could go some way towards explaining the dip in form in west London.

Both players will be redoubling their efforts to shut out the Portuguese on Tuesday, if selected, but Klopp may also spring a surprise at the back.

After all, he used the 3-2 win over AC Milan earlier this month to rest and rotate as Joe Gomez was recalled in place of Van Dijk.

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System tweak?

The final 25 minutes or so at the weekend saw Liverpool playing in an adventurous 4-2-3-1 system.

It featured all four of their main attackers with Diogo Jota and Sadio Mane on the right and left wing, respectively, with Roberto Firmino tucked in behind Mohamed Salah.

The change, which saw Firmino replace Curtis Jones for his first appearance in a month, was initially set up before the midfielder rifled in Liverpool’s third, but Klopp decided to keep faith with the substitution nonetheless.

“I actually think it worked really well,” Klopp said of the attacking move.

“We didn’t score from the situations, but Bobby (Firmino) had a few really, really good situations passing wise, giving the ball.

“We had massive chances and even in the last second (there was) a big one.

“That was the reason. We thought we could score more goals to get a result.”

It’s a formation that has been used sparingly by Klopp since Jota signed from Wolves a year ago and what it lacks in midfield control, it makes up for in attacking threat.

Could it be unleashed on Porto from the start?



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