Jurgen Klopp faces Liverpool dilemma thanks to Virgil van Dijk and Trent Alexander-Arnold – Express

Virgil van Dijk’s extra one-match suspension has been confirmed and Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp is now facing a real dilemma. After the international break, the fifth match-week of the 2023-24 Premier League season sees the Reds travel to Molineux to face Wolves.
Liverpool have collected 10 points from 12 so far while Wolves have lost three of their four matches, including a 4-1 loss to Brighton in their only league match at home. But as Klopp looks to get one over ex-Liverpool academy coach Gary O’Neil, he will be handicapped.
Not only will Klopp be without his banned captain Van Dijk, but influential right-back Trent Alexander-Arnold will be absent as well with a hamstring injury. He was superb against Aston Villa last time out and though he has committed two mistakes leading to opposition goals, he has been vital in possession.
Behind the vice-captain, Joe Gomez is the main back-up right-back. With Conor Bradley out injured, Calvin Ramsay on loan at Preston (and also injured) and James Milner and Jordan Henderson having left, Liverpool are short on options to cover for Alexander-Arnold.
The problem is that Gomez is also the fourth-choice centre-half. It was centrally that he excelled alongside Joel Matip against Aston Villa in the last match. But not only is Van Dijk out, so too is Ibrahima Konate – the Dutchman’s preferred partner – who remains unavailable due to an unspecific issue.
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As such, Gomez is needed at both centre-back and right-back at the same time. Given how well he and Matip played last time out, Klopp’s preference will surely be to keep Gomez at centre-back. But if he does, Liverpool have a headache deciding who then starts at full-back.
Left-back Kostas Tsimikas could perhaps be asked to play there but it would be an uncomfortable change for him as a left footer and he might struggle to overlap Mohamed Salah. Perhaps one solution will be Stefan Bajcetic, who came through the academy as a central defender before blossoming into a midfielder.
The 18-year-old right-footer has not made an appearance since March due to injury but has been on the bench for the Reds’ last three matches. That should mean he is fit enough to start if needed. If deployed like Alexander-Arnold in an inverted role where the right-back steps into midfield, Bajcetic would have no problems adjusting. The Spaniard’s main strengths are his quality on the ball, his football intelligence and his awareness.FBL-ENG-PR-LIVERPOOL-ASTON VILLABut who comes in at centre-back if Gomez starts at right-back? Academy talent Jarell Quansah, 20, has already racked up 32 Premier League minutes this season. He would be the main candidate for his first start, next to Matip.
Alternatively, summer signing Wataru Endo could deputise in defence. That would also allow Klopp to start the same midfield three – Alexis Mac Allister, Curtis Jones and Dominik Szoboszlai – that shone against Villa while still having a natural centre-back on the bench in Quansah.
Whatever Klopp decides, however, he will have limited options in reserve. He is without three of his ideal starting back four in Wolverhampton. Having already overcome some big challenges – namely being down to 10 men for at least half-an-hour in two matches – this is another one Klopp and his squad must navigate.
Winning away at Wolves without Van Dijk, Konate and Alexander-Arnold would be another indicator they can compete with Manchester City and Arsenal for the league title this year. But it won’t be easy.
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