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Klopp’s five changes to give Liverpool fans optimism for crunch Man City clash

If Liverpool are to have any hope of beating a Manchester City side in imperious form, Jurgen Klopp will need to make drastic changes to the starting XI which limply fell to a 1-0 defeat by Brighton.

Time is quickly running out for the Reds to embark on a much-needed winning run as they bid to defend their Premier League crown.

A 1-0 loss at home to Burnley last month ended Liverpool’s 68-game unbeaten top-flight run at Anfield and left them without a win in five games.

Klopp’s men showed signs of recovery with back-to-back wins over Tottenham and West Ham, but another 1-0 loss at home – this time to Brighton on Thursday – suggests there are still glaring problems yet to be solved.

City, meanwhile, have cemented their status as league leaders with a 13-game unbeaten run and are firm favourites to come away from Anfield with three points.

The cards are certainly stacked against Liverpool – but here Mirror Sport highlights five changes which could improve their chances.

1. Alisson restored

Alisson has recovered from a bout of illness

Alisson was ruled out of the defeat by Brighton through illness but Jurgen Klopp confirmed his No.1 was “feeling much better” on Friday.

Back-up goalkeeper Caoimhin Kelleher was arguably the Reds’ best performer against the Seagulls and made two important saves late on.

But there is no doubt Alisson is one of Liverpool’s most important players and his presence lifts the levels of his teammates.

Manchester City’s in-form attackers are sure to sting the Brazilian’s palms on many occasions, while his composure and distribution may prove vital to giving the Reds a fighting chance.

If Alisson has recovered fully in time to start against City, it would be a big boost for Liverpool.

2. New blood in defence

Klopp could turn to Kabak or Davies in central defence
Klopp could turn to Kabak or Davies in central defence

While an encounter with Manchester City is not the ideal time to debut a new centre-back, Jurgen Klopp may feel he has to throw one of Ben Davies or Ozan Kabak in at the deep end.

The pair were signed on deadline day to plug Liverpool’s injury-ravaged defence and at least one of them may make their Liverpool bow on Sunday.

Davies moved to Anfield in a £2million transfer from Preston North End and was an unused substitute against Brighton, while on-loan Schalke star Kabak was not named in the squad to face the Seagulls.

While we do not know what the new pecking order will look like, having at least one senior centre-back in the back four can only be a good thing for the out-of-sorts champions.

Fabinho’s return from injury is also a timely one and having the experienced Brazilian as a partner could help calm the nerves of a debutant.

Would you like to see Kabak or Davies start against City? Have your say in the comments.

3. Rejuvenated midfield

Liverpool would benefit from having their captain back in midfield
Liverpool would benefit from having their captain back in midfield

Starting one of Ozan Kabak or Ben Davies alongside Fabinho, if he is passed fit, would free up Jordan Henderson to return from centre-back to midfield.

Just how much the Reds have missed the presence of their captain in the centre of the park in recent fixtures cannot be overstated.

Henderson excels as a No.6 or No.8 due to his work-rate and combativeness, while his excellent reading of the game will be useful to help nullify the threat of Manchester City’s technically-gifted midfielders.

The Englishman also has a fantastic relationship with Trent Alexander-Arnold and his covering for the marauding right-back is something no other player in the squad has mastered.

Henderson may have impressed as a makeshift centre-back, but his return to central midfield will be a welcome one.

4. Manage Mane

Mane took part in training on Friday and is likely to feature in some capacity against City
Mane took part in training on Friday and is likely to feature in some capacity against City

One of the key questions facing Jurgen Klopp concerns how many minutes he hands Sadio Mane.

The Senegalese forward did not make the bench against Brighton but took part in team training on Friday to give rise to hope he could feature against Manchester City.

Mane was sorely missed in the defeat by the Seagulls, with Liverpool’s attacks becoming increasingly easy to defend as the game wore on; the strategy of hoofing the ball to Mohamed Salah and hoping for the best bore little fruit.

Mane has the ability to unlock defences with his footwork and he has a fine record against City, scoring in this fixture in two of the last three seasons. The 28-year-old also won the penalty from which Salah opened the scoring in the reverse fixture in November.

The sight of Mane in the starting XI would give City’s defenders something to think about, but even if he is not fit enough to make the starting line-up, Klopp is sure to call on the former Southampton man at some point.

5. Gamble on Jones

Jones has great work-rate and the creativity to add something new to the Reds XI
Jones has great work-rate and the creativity to add something new to the Reds XI

Curtis Jones took less than a minute to assist Mohamed Salah’s opener after coming off the bench against West Ham.

It was a game-changing intervention, so it raised eyebrows when the 20-year-old had to settle for a spot among the substitutes for the clash with Brighton.

Jones is one of the most promising talents to emerge form Liverpool’s academy in recent years and he has already racked up 23 appearances this season.

The Englishman started in victories over Leicester and Tottenham earlier this season, so he has big-game experience under his belt.

Indeed, Jones has proved himself a composed act when the spotlight is on him on many occasions. But the risk of starting him against Manchester City is that Liverpool may lose the control in midfield a more defensive or experienced player – such as James Milner – would bring.

But there is no hiding the fact the midfield trio of Milner, Thiago Alcantara and Gini Wijnaldum has failed to impress recently, and Klopp may well turn to Jones to inject new life and endeavour into his side.

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