The Anfield Wrap’s match preview before Liverpool v Rangers in The Reds’ third Champions League group stage game at Anfield…


IT’S easy to get frustrated when your source of enjoyment becomes a little bit less enjoyable.

When what is supposed to be an escape doesn’t feel that way for a length of time. You desperately look for answers, for solutions, for a way to make things fun again.

After finishing on a high against Ajax, the return from the international break was supposed to mark a new beginning for Liverpool. It was an opportunity for the team to come back and prove that they have learned from their poor start to the season and kick on. The season starts now.

Conceding an early goal, and then another, was not in the script.

“When you spot a problem and you think you have the solution, you expect the solution to be instant. Sorted. That is never the case in football and will never be the case.”

The manager highlighted yesterday that we’ve been here before under different circumstances. With a decimated backline in 2020, we had to find solutions. It was a four-month process and we could all see how the team suffered until, in the words of Klopp, we “found the way out”.

Liverpool's manager Jürgen Klopp applauds the supporters after the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Brighton & Hove Albion FC at Anfield

It feels more difficult to find a way out when you can’t pinpoint exactly what the problem is. We can theorise about a crisis in confidence, about whether we’re a team in transition. We can place the blame on certain players and make them scapegoats. We can talk about a lack of investment and the impact it has had.

Perhaps all of these things have a part to play, but as the manager said yesterday, the truth is that everything needs to be better. That starts in defence, with Kostas Tsimikas admitting that a lack of compactness this season has caused them to concede too many goals.

Rangers’ first foray into the Champions League group stage in 12 years hasn’t got off to the best start, but after a convincing domestic win in their last game, they will come to Anfield full of confidence and with little to lose.

They will look to bring intensity and match many other opposition teams this season in setting up to break through Liverpool’s lines. With another chance to rectify this tonight, I expect the defence to be unchanged from the weekend.

Andy Robertson is sure to be frustrated to miss this one, and with Ibrahima Konate only just returning to the squad, the manager will call on the services of Tsimikas and Joel Matip again. Completing the backline will be Virgil van Dijk and Trent Alexander-Arnold.

More changes will likely be made in midfield, and I wouldn’t be surprised if the manager opted to give Fabinho a rest from the start. Jordan Henderson could slot into the six role, with Harvey Elliott playing starting on the right and Thiago Alcantara on the left.

Liverpool's Trent Alexander-Arnold and Harvey Elliott line-up before the UEFA Champions League Group A matchday 2 game between Liverpool FC and AFC Ajax at Anfield

Pressure must start from the front, and while Roberto Firmino is Liverpool’s unexpected top goalscorer this season, I expect Diogo Jota to come in for this one and be tasked with troubling Rangers defence from the get go.

Subbed on at half time against Brighton, the attacking impact of Luis Diaz means he needs to start tonight, with Mo Salah completing the line up.

Not a bad team, hey? Not a million miles off the one that we’ve watched win the lot. Let’s all believe that they can do it again.

As Tsimikas said “nothing is finished”. I’ll side with the Greek scouser on this one.

Predicted 11: Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Matip, Van Dijk, Tsimikas; Elliott, Henderson, Thiago; Salah, Jota, Diaz

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