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Jurgen Klopp's big three calls ahead of Porto vs Liverpool as Trent Alexander-Arnold out


Liverpool take on Porto in the Champions League on Tuesday evening, but they were served a blow on Monday when Trent Alexander-Arnold failed to travel for the fixture

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Klopp calls for defensive improvements from Liverpool at Porto

Liverpool have got a superb recent record at Porto, but a bit of bad news en route to Portugal would not have filled Jurgen Klopp with joy ahead of Tuesday’s Champions League group stage fixture.

The Reds won 5-0 in Portugal en route to the final in 2018, and then 4-1 a year later on their way to winning the competition, but any victory this time around will have to be achieved without the services of Trent Alexander-Arnold.

The right-back did train with the Reds on Monday but has not travelled for this fixture amid suggestions that he’s picked up an injury, with the blow potentially forcing him out of the weekend clash with Manchester City.





Alexander-Arnold is of course such a key player for the way that Liverpool play, and Klopp will be desperate to have him back sooner rather than later as the Reds face battles in both the Premier League and Champions League this season, but he’ll now be wondering what to do to replace him.

He would already have had plenty on his mind ahead of the game, but all of a sudden he now faces three important decisions.

1. Who replaces Trent?








Alexander-Arnold was spotted in training on Monday
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Image:

Liverpool FC via Getty Images)



First, the obvious one.

Being without Alexander-Arnold isn’t exactly a new thing for Liverpool of late, with his absence here meaning that he’ll have missed three of the last four games.

It was illness that kept the England right-back out of the recent win over Crystal Palace, with James Milner deputising at short notice.

Alexander-Arnold was never likely to play in the League Cup at Norwich anyway, with young Conor Bradley coming in for him there, and after he featured at Brentford at the weekend he is likely to have another different replacement here.

Fit-again Neco Williams is with the squad in Porto and could be seen as the favourite if Klopp trusts him to start, while Joe Gomez could also do a job out there if needed.

The dependable Milner is of course another option, but none of the above will provide Alexander-Arnold’s thrust going forward.

2. A change at centre-back?








Joe Gomez could partner Virgil van Dijk
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Image:

Liverpool FC via Getty Images)



It could well be that Gomez isn’t used at right-back because he’s needed in the centre.

The England international prefers it there of course, and he captained the Reds from the position in his first start since last November’s serious knee injury in the win at Norwich last week.

He was excellent there too, and there is no doubt that playing in the middle is his best position, and also he would love to pair with Virgil van Dijk again as the Dutchman’s first-choice partner – just as he was in the Premier League title winning season.

Joel Matip has usurped him there in the current campaign, but after an uncertain evening at Brentford it could well be that Klopp turns to Gomez in his stead.

Ibrahima Konate is another option, but would be a surprise.

3. A midfield reshuffle?








There could be a spot for James Milner in the team
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Image:

Liverpool FC via Getty Images)



The midfield was also an area of concern for Klopp at the Brentford Community Stadium on Saturday, as Liverpool were so often bypassed in that area.

Fabinho and Jordan Henderson will probably be asked to go again, especially as there is still five days to go until the game against Manchester City, but that third position could be up for debate.





Curtis Jones played well and scored at Brentford, and Naby Keita is with the squad after he recovered from a minor injury, but with Klopp perhaps hoping for a bit more control in the middle then maybe Milner could get the nod, especially with Thiago injured.

A start for him in the middle and Gomez at centre-back would narrow the right-back options of course, and could end up pointing to Williams coming in for Alexander-Arnold.


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