Aleksandar Kolarov v Roberto Firmino
It seems that Serbian international Aleksandar Kolarov is now Pep Guardiola’s first choice center back. It has been John Stones and Nicolás Otamendi that have been rotating. While both Stones and Otamendi are good ball players in Guardiola’s system neither has been proficient at the basics of defending. Kolarov has given them a better balance in that regard though he is lack of experience in the role makes them more vulnerable positionally.
Klopp will be praying that Firmino passes his late fitness tests. When Liverpool are at their best they have a buzzing harassing forward line that interchanges quickly in fluid attacks when they win the ball. Nobody represents this style of play better than Roberto Firmino who seems tailor-made to carry out Klopp’s attacking philosophy. Replacement Divock Origi would give the Kolarov a more traditional striker to face which would far greatly suit his own strengths.
On another week against a different opponent Firmino would probably be given more time to recover. With Daniel Sturridge out and Origi struggling to be fit it seems very likely Firmino will go if it is at all possible.
The only other option would be 17-year-old Ben Woodburn who has shone for Liverpool’s U-23’s this year. There is the possibility that it could be 19-year-old Harry Wilson who is more natural striker. The drop to the youngsters is so significant that I expect Firmino to play even if he’s only marginally fit.