Huddersfield Town vs Liverpool
Venue: John Smiths Stadium
TV: BT Sport 1
Referee: Michael Oliver
Jurgen Klopp will be hoping to get his side back on track this Saturday as Liverpool travel to West Yorkshire to face David Wagner’s winless Huddersfield Town.
Having started the 2018/19 campaign in fine form, going top of the league, the Reds are now without a win in their last five games. The drop in form began after their Carabao Cup exit to Chelsea, and later that week Klopp saw his side squander a vital point in Napoli before Riyad Mahrez had the chance to snatch a 13 year awaited victory at Anfield, but he missed the penalty. It’s safe to say that Liverpool have not been in the best of form recently, but neither have their opposition.
Huddersfield are still yet to win a game, and having played eight games it remains only them, Cardiff and Newcastle who are yet to secure three points. Last time out the Terriers were unfortunate not to beat Burnley; having equalised late in the second half it seemed likely that David Wagner’s side would push on and snatch all three points, but ended in another draw. Looking back at the match, its fair to say that the Terriers dominated, racking up an impressive 19 shots in comparison to the home sides six. It will be welcome news to Wagner that Huddersfield’s performances are definitely improving.
It seems that Liverpool have ridden the storm following a run of tough fixtures. Their last seven games were against arguably some of Europe’s best, all within a month. Their tough spell started mid-September against Spurs and since then they have played PSG, Southampton, Chelsea (twice), Napoli and Manchester City. The Reds will have mixed emotions following those set of fixtures: winning three times, losing twice and drawing twice. Klopp’s side may have lost twice, but they are still undefeated in the league.
It seems an early title race is coming about, three of the league’s big dogs are all joint at the pinnacle of the Premier League table – Chelsea, Manchester City and Liverpool. City, as per usual, have been cruising through the league, scoring the most goals so far (21).
Maurizio Sarri’s side have likewise been scoring high (18) with an inspired Eden Hazard at their disposal, they seem to be a force to be reckoned with. Looking ahead, it seems the Reds should be keeping pressure on the other two, with some more favourable fixtures. With Christmas looming, Klopp’s side will be eyeing up a chance to gain some ground on their rivals. Chelsea face United this Saturday, and Manchester City will later play Spurs and Manchester United; should fortune and favour prevail, there’s a chance for Liverpool to claim an early top spot.
So far this season Huddersfield haven’t been troubled to badly with injures. Terence Kongolo is still suffering from a hamstring injury and will not feature this Saturday, though midfielder Danny Williams is fit after recovering from knee injury.
Both Chris Löwe and Philip Billing have had knocks and are likely to start against the Reds. Aaron Mooy and Tommy Smith have previously been unavailable with groin injuries, but should be fit to start.
New signing Ramadan Sobhi is finally fit, but has only played six minutes of league football, so it is unlikely that he will play a major part.
Wagner will be delighted having heard of Liverpool’s injury crisis, but fellow German manger Jurgen Klopp has deemed the Cup of Nations to be “the most senseless competition in the world of football”
The Liverpool boss is without a number of key players for Saturday’s clash; with Virgil Van Dijk, Sadio Mane, Adam Lallana, Naby Keita and James Milner all doubts.
Naby Keita was substituted following a suspected muscle strain in Guinea’s 1-1 draw against Rwanda, so he will sit this one out. Van Dijk has an ongoing rib injury and Dutch boss Ronald Koeman said how “Virgil has played with two broken ribs in the last weeks,” so it’s unlikely that the record signing centre back will feature.
Mohamed Salah was taken off with a groin strain as Egypt beat Swatini 4-1 last Friday. Salah left his international side and returned to Liverpool for further treatment, instead of playing again for Egypt, but after returning to training the Egyptian is expected to start in Saturday’s clash against Huddersfield. Sadio Mane, another high profile injury, suffered a broken thumb in Senegal’s 3-0 win over Sudan on Saturday. However the winger has recently undergone surgery and medical staff are reported to have said it is touch and go whather he will play a part.
James Milner will not play as he is still recovering from a hamstring injury. However Adam Lallana is fit, and has been training following his recovery from injury – so he could feature for the first time this season.
Predicted Starting XI’s:
Huddersfield – (4-5-1): Lössl; Durm, Zanka, Schindler, Lowe; Billing, Hogg, Mooy, Pritchard, Van La Parra; Depoitre
Liverpool – (4-3-3): Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Gomez, Lovren, Robertson; Wijnaldum, Henderson, Fabinho; Salah, Firmino, Shaqiri.
Prediction: Huddersfield Town 1 Liverpool 2
The depth of the Liverpool squad will be tested out this Saturday. But the quality that Klopp can bring in will still pose a significant threat to the Terriers. It’s also hard seeing the home side containing the Reds, having already conceded 17 goals this season. But I think Huddersfield will put up a fight and it will be a closely contested affair.