Jurgen Klopp’s squad looks devoid of confidence and commitment, whenever they have stepped onto the pitch so far this season. Adding to their existing troubles, Liverpool will next face a fierce opponent the Ajax Football Club. That too, in the Netherlands.
While the Reds were triumphant against the Dutch Champions, earlier, when the two sides squared at Anfield. But this time, there is much more at stake for Eredivisie table toppers to fight for, as they will have to win their remaining games and hope for the other results to go their way if they are to qualify for the knockouts of the Champions League this season.
When & Where?
Venue: Johan Cruyff Arena.
Day/Date: Wednesday, 26th October 2022.
Time: 8 PM BST.
Youngsters – Kaplan, Rensch, and Ihattaren are all out due to injuries and the availability of Kenneth Taylor is a question as he has a muscle strain.
Mohammed Kudus will be looking to make it into the squad against Liverpool, as Brobbey is set to make way for the Ghanaian forward despite his stunning performance on the weekend.
The Reds, on the other hand, have absentees aplenty in Diaz, Jota and Matip but Jurgen Klopp will take great heart in the fact that Keita, Konate and Nunez have all participated in the training sessions earlier on Tuesday.
There is still no news of Thiago’s recovery, and the Spaniard was not spotted in the training session that the Reds partook in.
While Oxlade-Chamberlain will be available to provide a good fresh pair of legs if needed later in the game as a substitute, he might well be in contention to even start the game- depending upon the assessment of the coaches during the training session.
Can Ajax break this season’s European curse?
Surprisingly enough, the club from Amsterdam have been abysmal in the Champions League so far in the group stage. Having accumulated just 3 points in 4 games, it is safe to say that Ajax at least requires 2 victories from the remaining 2 games, if they are to have any chance of qualifying the knockouts.
And that is me being just kind- because Liverpool, who are in 2nd place with 9 points in Group A, just require a point from their remaining 2 games to qualify the knockouts and break thousands of Dutch hearts. Another live proof that Football is a game of margins! Furthermore, Alfred Schreuder’s men face a daunting task up next, when they will be hosting one of the major favourites to win the competition in Liverpool. Although the Reds have not had the greatest of starts to the 2022/23 campaign, they have had their moments!
Spiritless, unconfident, weary, they may be, but you cannot take away the fact from them that they are a Liverpool side – who will fight to live up to the legacy that the crest on the front of the shirt holds! But at the same time, Ajax have had the polar opposite domestic start to the season, currently topping the Eredivisie with 28 points from 11 games.
With such a convincing league performance it’s obvious that eyebrows will get raised when you will not be able to perform on the same level in the Champions League. And now, there remain only 2 games for Schreuder and co. to prove their mettle. With their entry into the Europa League almost certain, they can almost go into the UEL with a promise that they are not the ones to be messed around with…
Can Liverpool turn the tide?
The Kopites around the world still believe and believe they must as the side have shown a glimmer of hope hither and thither so far in the season. A record-breaking 9-0 victory against Bournemouth, maintaining a decent UCL campaign so far (Napoli result being an exception), and most importantly of all winning against an unstoppable City side with a good show of defensive performance in a 1-0 victory.
So, where is it that they are going off? I mean a layman is bound to believe that Liverpool are a tough bird if they are beating this City side containing the likes of Haaland, KDB, Foden and the list goes on. And to be fair they won’t be wrong in thinking this, until they hear that the same Liverpool side are unable to come out victorious against a Relegation Battlers in Nottingham Forest. Injuries, lack of motivation and desire, and lack of confidence have all heavily played a part in Liverpool’s downfall.
At the same time, the blame cannot be put on any one individual, in this case, Klopp, because what does a manager supposed to do when someone of Trent Alexander-Arnold’s ability is unable to give their hundred percent on the pitch? And in this case, the gaffer at least has tried to change a few tactics, here and there, like changing the formation- going from 4-3-3 to 4-2-3-1- and is also trying to shuffle the playing XI in such a short/injury-ridden squad just to make sure that everyone gets their due rests.
The upcoming game against Ajax is not a do-or-die, obviously, but surely a game for the Liverpudlians to kick-start their campaign… Yes I know, we have been saying this before every single one of their match days so far this season but let us face the facts and not ‘make a mountain out of the hill’ for what it is worth that Jurgen Klopp and his players have still got a lot of the season left to bring the best out of it, given they see the problem for itself and not get too ahead of themselves.
It seems as if Steven Bergwijn belongs to the Eredivisie, as the Dutch winger has dazzled to a brilliant start at Ajax after a dry spell at Tottenham Hotspur. The talented 24-year-old has already scored 9 goals in 14 games for Ajax under Schreuder, across all competitions. And mixing it up with the high-flying Mexican in Edson Alvarez, this duo has been unstoppable and unplayable for what it is worth!
Ajax will be looking to attack through the pace of Bergwijn – as they tried at Anfield – since the Dutch has eased into his new side quite well, and will surely look to exploit the Reds’ defensive weaknesses in front of home fans.
The Egyptian King might have hit a low since the AFCON, earlier this year, but he still seems to be running the show in one of the prestigious competitions of Europe. Salah is trying to gain his Premier League rhythm slowly, having scored 3 goals and assisted another 3 in just 11 league games. While ensuring his Champions League aura remain intact, as the Egyptian has already scored 5 goals in just 4 Group stage games so far.
Another such performance will be expected out of the ever-reliable Salah, as Jurgen Klopp will hope that his side secures their spot in the knockout stage with a victory in Amsterdam.
Ajax predicted XI vs Liverpool: Pasveer; Sanchez, Timber, Bassey, Blind; Klaassen, Alvarez, Berghuis; Tadic, Kudus, Bergwijn.
Liverpool predicted XI vs Ajax: Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Konate, Van Dijk, Robertson; Henderson, Thiago; Elliott, Firmino, Nunez; Salah.