One of the key ingredients in winning a league title is in having plenty of squad depth to cater for the unrelenting demands of the domestic and continental fixture list.
In the past, it’s an area in which Liverpool have fallen down on somewhat, but in 2019/20 we finally look to have hit the nail on the head. Evidence of that was clear in the 3-0 win over Bournemouth, with Jurgen Klopp making seven changes to the side that saw off Everton in midweek.
Were there any teething problems? Any signs that all was not well? Not a bit of it, and indeed two of the most impressive performers on the day were Naby Keita and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, who can be described as nothing more than fringe players at this moment in time.
They replaced Gini Wijnaldum and Sadio Mane with ease, the latter opening the scoring after 35 minutes following a period of complete Reds domination.
Keita was peerless, a bundle of energy in midfield, and he doubled our lead just before half-time with a neat finish from a clever Mo Salah flick.
Roles were reversed for the third when the Guinea man turned provider for the Egyptian, and that was that: 54 minutes gone, 3-0 up and the game was over.
There’s no let-up in this hectic campaign, however, and on Tuesday it’s back into the Champions League fray with a trip to Austria to take on Red Bull Salzburg.
By now, this really ought to have been a dead rubber contest, but we have made a bit of a mess of qualification from Group E and so now we need at least a point against what is a dangerous outfit.
Ideally, we’d go on to win, as a stalemate in Salzburg would leave the door ajar for Napoli to finish top and be seeded for the knockout phase.
It’s a potentially fraught encounter, and one that the Reds need to devote maximum attention to.
Liverpool Team News
The rest and rotation policy of Klopp recently has at least eased the burden somewhat on otherwise tired legs.
But no quarter can be given in Austria, and the manager has to pick the strongest eleven available to him as he seeks to win, rather than simply avoiding defeat.
The likes of Fabinho and Joel Matip are definitely out, although Gini Wijnaldum should have recovered from the ravages of cramp that kept him out on Saturday.
The main problem is Dejan Lovren, who limped off in the first half against Bournemouth.
However, the diagnosis is not one of major seriousness according to the manager.
“Always you don’t know exactly but it looks not too serious, it looks like a little cramp,” Klopp said in his post-match interview. “He [Lovren] felt something, he told us, said he for sure could go to half-time, wanted to have treatment there and carry on, but we said no and stopped it there.”
Hopefully, the rejuvenated Croatian will be fit to make the plane to Salzburg.
Red Bull Salzburg Form
There is nothing else for it: Red Bull Salzburg have to win this game to reach the last 16 of the Champions League.
And so they will be throwing the kitchen sink at us on home soil, and for a side that has scored sixteen times in this competition so far – only Bayern and Spurs have netted more – we will clearly need to be on our guard.
In Erling Braut Haland, they also possess one of the most lethal marksmen in European football.
On the plus side, although we only beat them 4-3 at Anfield there was more to that result than met the eye. After all, we were 3-0 up after barely half an hour, and it’s quite possible that our players took their foot off the gas – sub-consciously or otherwise.
In short, the Austrians are dangerous….but also there for the taking.
Red Bull Salzburg vs Liverpool Betting Tips
Given the odds available, it looks as if the bookies have had a hard time pricing this one up.
Liverpool are available at 5/6, and to us that really does look like excellent value. We can deploy our rare-but-highly-successful counter attacking football here, sitting in before springing out with our deadly front three.
Salzburg have to win, and that makes them vulnerable. Sure, they might get on the scoresheet – their previous results indicate the likelihood of that – but we will hopefully outscore them in an entertaining encounter.
To give you a flavour of how the bookies see this one going, Over 3.5 Goals is available at odds of just Evens! Perhaps we can be contrary here and take the ‘unders’ line at 10/11, which still accounts for a goal-heavy encounter.