Jürgen Klopp has some problems to solve before the collision with Man City on Sunday

Jürgen Klopp has some problems to solve before the collision with Man City on Sunday

Liverpool hosts Manchester City on Sunday in a top match that can be decisive for the Premier League title and the unbeaten Reds.

Liverpool coach Jurgen Klopp has perhaps built a six-point advantage over City at the top of the league this season, but the German still needs to decide on a number of key questions before he can play his first XI against the champions.

Henderson and Wijnaldum will sweat on their positions, but Klopp and his veteran team could examine the effects of Oxlade-Chamberlain's last 20 minutes

Phil Thompson

With the help of former Liverpool captain Phil Thompson, we examine the various decisions that the Chief of the Red faces before visiting City in Anfield Great Sunday.

Who can Van Dijk win as a partner?

Does Dejan Lovren get the nod to accompany Virgil van Dijk?

Does Dejan Lovren get the nod to accompany Virgil van Dijk?

While the identity of most Liverpool defenders is already set in stone, Virgil van Dijk's partner, who will form the home side's central defense team at Anfield, remains controversial.

In the absence of injured Joel Matip, Van Dijk's main partner in the back seat, Klopp must decide between the experience of Dejan Lovren – who had rested for the 2-1 home victory against Genk in the Champions League on Tuesday – and the youthful promise of Joe Gomez.

The England international replaced Lovren midway through the week in Anfield, and it is feared that he will maintain his defensive position due to his pace to better counter the threat of Raheem Sterling and Sergio Aguero.

At the same time Klopp could decide with his 30-year-old Croat – "one of the best defenders in the world" – for a duel in which his team desperately registered a goal.

The problem for the league leaders, however, is that since their last outing at Bramall Lane on September 28, they have played eight games in all competitions.

Thommo's view: For me I would go with Gomez, I thought he was sloppy against Arsenal in the Carabao Cup, but I thought he was excellent against Genk on Tuesday – I watched him closely, he was back in good shape. The reason I chose Gomez is because you do not need the size as such, but the pace against City. I would go with him in our defense – Trent Alexander-Arnold, Andy Robertson, Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez, where you keep up throughout the year. Raheem Sterling, Sergio Aguero and Riyad Mahrez all have skill, but an abundance of pace – it's a massive part of the city mechanic.

Right Defender: TAA or Gomez?

Joe Gomez can be used as a right-back to strengthen Liverpool's defense

Joe Gomez can be used as a right-back to strengthen Liverpool's defense

While it would be unthinkable for many to see Trent Alexander-Arnold playing Anfield in the form in which the right-back is currently playing, Klopp returns to the game last October, and that's the decision, the city's dangerous leadership to keep in check.

On that occasion, the Liverpool coach decided on the greater defensive strength offered by Gomez and Lovren moved from center-back to right-back for Alexander-Arnold and Gomez.

In many ways, anyone who nods as a right-back will tell us a lot about how the hosts will handle the game this weekend.

Midfield: Fabinho + 2 …

Fabinho is now one of the first names in the Liverpool team

Fabinho is now one of the first names in the Liverpool team

Which two? While Fabinho (last retired from Aston Villa to avoid being suspended because of this clash) is now one of the first names in the Liverpool squad, the reds in the Premier League, with the pinning midfielder, still lose their start XI – just which two players will line up next to him is not that easy to predict.

Before this season, Klopp would have made a relatively straightforward decision between Jordan Henderson, James Milner and Georginio Wijnaldum, the latter two appearing against Genk during the week.

However, this is no longer the case after Adam Lallana and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, both of whom have scored important goals in recent weeks and are now pushing for starts this weekend, have recovered after a long-awaited upswing complicating the last-term groin problem the selection even further.

When the two teams met for the last time in Etihad in January, the Liverpool boss moved with a midfield from Milner, Henderson and Wijnaldum. Fabinho replaced the former shortly before the hour.

4:17
Gary Neville and Jamie Carragher look forward to the massive clash between Liverpool and Manchester City on Super Sunday.

Gary Neville and Jamie Carragher look forward to the massive clash between Liverpool and Manchester City on Super Sunday.

Thommo's view: I think Oxlade-Chamberlain has forced his way and there's a dilemma for Klopp. Does he feel 100 percent fit for such a huge game? He definitely looks that way and he has to be considerate of this game. With Henderson and Wijnaldum they never want to hit from 25 to 30 meters away, especially with Oxlade-Chamberlain. It gives you extra clout, especially at home.

I can also see the benefits of Henderson and Wijnaldum from home, but at Anfield the other option may fall out of the reach of Oxlade-Chamberlain. As we have seen at Genk and Arsenal, he can shoot remotely and pose an additional threat. This will be another dilemma for Klopp as the first three speak for themselves.

Fabinho is currently probably the country's best midfielder, so I'm not sure who will play by his side. Henderson and Wijnaldum are going to sweat about their positions, but he could go with his tried and tested and potentially look for the effects of Oxlade-Chamberlain over the last 20 minutes.

Mane or Salah right?

Will it be Sadio Mane or Mo Salah who starts on Sunday to the right of Liverpool's attack?

Will it be Sadio Mane or Mo Salah who starts on Sunday to the right of Liverpool's attack?

Klopp almost always has a 4-3-3 formation, so it would be a big surprise if Liverpool did not play that Sunday afternoon.

The intriguing thing about the form of the team is, however, who positions Klopp in direct opposition to City's alleged weak link with left-back Mohamed Salah or Sadio Mane.

The Egyptian striker would normally occupy the mooring on the right side of the Red's front line so he can re-enter his favorite left foot. However, on this occasion, the coach from Liverpool could be of the opinion that the start with the shapely mane on this flank is of greater value.

Certainly it was an area that Liverpool exploited in its last two victories against City at Anfield, the Premier League and the Champions League. So it would be a big surprise if Klopp did not use similar tactics this time around.

Choose your Liverpool XI against Man City

How is Liverpool handling this game?

Thommo's view: I think Liverpool has to be smart, it does not have to be cage. Guardiola changed his tactics last year when they were on the back of a brawl before the break. He changed his approach to be more defensive. Kyle Walker came out and said that they should not venture so far forward and not play in Liverpool's hands.

It worked to some extent for them, as Liverpool did not fare as well as it did two seasons ago. I think he will do something similar in this game, so Liverpool needs to be prepared for both scenarios. Pep is a very smart manager – he knows what his team owns and he knows that they are very good at what they do.

Liverpool and City played a goalless draw at Anfield last season

Liverpool and City played a goalless draw at Anfield last season

Normally, City does not worry about the opponent, but in this context, he knows that Liverpool can blow you away within 20 minutes so he can pay respect where appropriate. Klopp knows the pace and power of City, and he will not want to give the ball away so they can attack or counter in any way.

I think it will be a very caged game, but I hope it will be a better game last year than Anfield's. Because it's in Anfield, Liverpool will go with a high press and win the fans for it. They will want to score the first goal to change the dynamics of the game, but Klopp will have some caution in mind. Liverpool has to be more adventurous than the city it will be.

Liverpool vs Man City

November 10, 2019, 4:00 pm

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