Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool hint looks like smokescreen amid Trent Alexander-Arnold absence

Trent Alexander-Arnold will miss Liverpool’s clash with Manchester City due to a groin injury, presenting Jurgen Klopp with the challenge of replacing him in the starting XI

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Klopp previews Liverpool’s Premier League clash against Man City

Jurgen Klopp is keen to keep Pep Guardiola on his toes ahead of Liverpool’s encounter with Manchester City on Sunday evening.

But his latest attempt to keep his opposite number guessing is unlikely to bear fruit due to his unwavering dedication to four-man defences in recent years.

Klopp is faced with a challenging dilemma at the back as he prepares for the visit of the Premier League champions without Trent Alexander-Arnold, who is ruled out until after the international break with a groin injury.

The 22-year-old is one of the key creative outlets in the Liverpool XI and although he faces criticism for his defensive work on occasion, he remains one of the best right-backs in the world.

Jurgen Klopp has been pondering how to replace Trent Alexander-Arnold

Replacing Alexander-Arnold is no easy task, but James Milner has done a fine job when called upon this season.

The 35-year-old performed brilliantly against Wilfried Zaha in the 3-0 victory over Crystal Palace last month and chipped in with an assist from right-back in the 5-1 thrashing of Porto on Tuesday.

Nonetheless, Klopp was coy when quizzed by reporters on who would line up in Alexander-Arnold’s place as City arrive on Merseyside.

The German manager was keen to highlight he also has Neco Williams and Joe Gomez who can play at right-back, while he even claimed he could “change system”.

By this, Klopp appeared to hint at a move away from a conventional back four to a formation which uses wing-backs instead of full-backs.

On paper, this would make a lot of sense for Liverpool, allowing Klopp to deploy three centre-backs and ease the pressure on the stand-in option on the right side of defence to keep City’s dazzling attackers at bay.

What is your scoreline prediction for Liverpool versus Manchester City? Have your say in the comments.

The Reds have a wealth of options at centre-back this season, in stark contrast to their injury-ravaged 2020/21 campaign, while Andy Robertson regularly features as a left wing-back while captaining Scotland.

But the fact of the matter is Klopp has not wavered from a four-man defence for years, barring occasions when Liverpool throw on another centre-back to see out the dying minutes of matches.

One of the only occasions he started with a three-man central defence came back in 2017, when the Reds secured a memorable 5-1 victory over Brighton with Emre Can and Georginio Wijnaldum lining up at the back.

Indeed, deviations from a 4-3-3 have been few and far between, with Klopp only switching things up to name a more attack-minded 4-2-3-1 every now and then.

So, he may be out to give Guardiola something to think about with his suggestion he could drastically change formation on Sunday.

But Klopp’s track record means the Spaniard will not have paid too much attention to the Liverpool boss’ comments, and he will likely assume Milner gets the nod Anfield.

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