By Scott Mason – @ScottMason00
Liverpool play Manchester City in Sunday’s Community Shield clash, and it remains to be seen if recently-returned pair Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino will start up top for the Reds.
The Egyptian and Brazilian will return in time to play a part in Liverpool’s final pre-season game against Olympique Lyonnais. However, Jurgen Klopp has said that they will only play a maximum of a half an hour.
The boss also confirmed that he must see Mo and Bobby in training first before deciding whether they start against City on Sunday. If the two do not feature in the starting line-up, Liverpool will be without all three members of their famous trio, with Sadio Mané still on holiday.
But if Klopp decides the duo are ready to start on Sunday, the boss will have a selection problem on who the third attacker will be. Liverpool do have a plethora of players who could take Mané’s place – the likes of Harry Wilson, Divock Origi, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Georginio Wijnaldum and Rhian Brewster could all play as a part of a front three on Sunday.
The most logical selection would, of course, be Origi. The Belgian would be able to play out wide or in the centre of the front three. He would also offer a physical presence up top while Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain could help Liverpool to play at a fast-paced tempo going forward with his pace and physical ability.
But a case could be made for young prospect Rhian Brewster to be given his professional debut for Liverpool. The young forward has impressed in pre-season, showing everyone why Klopp has included him in his plans for the upcoming campaign.
While it would be exciting to see Brewster in a competitive game, it might still be too soon to start the 19-year-old. We could see him come on as a sub if need be, but it is unlikely Klopp will field the youngster from the beginning.
Oxlade-Chamberlain has looked sharp since coming back from his injury and has played on the right wing for the past couple of pre-season games. The Englishman seems to be more suited to a midfield berth, however, so if ‘The Ox’ does start it would most likely be in his preferred central role.
Origi should be the man that Klopp turns to. The No.27 has been a fan favourite since that goal against Everton, and similarly crucial strikes against Newcastle United, Barcelona and Spurs in the Champions League final have cemented his status as a cult hero.
Having Divock up top alongside Salah and Firmino can allow the three to interchange positions throughout the game due to the No.27’s ability to play out wide. His height could also come in use due to the crossing ability of Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson, which would offer more ways to attack the City goal.
Going into the Premier League season with a major honour – albeit the Community Shield – would give the squad a boost for the games that follow, including Norwich City in the Premier League’s curtain-raiser and Chelsea in the UEFA Super Cup.