Now that the international break is finally over, Jurgen Klopp and his squad will be fully focused on the return of Premier League action, as they begin preparations for an away trip to Wolverhampton Wonderers this Saturday.
After an impressive opening four fixtures, the last thing Liverpool fans would have wanted was for momentum to be halted, but alas, the dreaded early season international break had to take place.
However, despite the two-week club football hiatus, many Reds have continued their scintillating form with their national sides.
Diogo Jota picked up three goal contributions in Portugal’s 9-0 stomping over Luxembourg, Cody Gakpo scored in both of his games for the Netherlands, Wataru Endo helped Japan to two comprehensive victories against Germany and Turkey, and Darwin Nuñez shone with two assists in Uruguay’s 3-1 win over Chile.
Supporters will be keeping fingers crossed that Liverpool’s stars can pick up where they left off against Aston Villa, with a win against Wolves in the early kick-off on Saturday.
READ MORE: Liverpool have chance to prove how far they’ve come with return to Wolves
Here are four things to look out for during the game.
WILL TRENT FEATURE?
Trent Alexander-Arnold, ProShots
Perhaps the only negative from Liverpool’s final fixture before the international break was Trent Alexander-Arnold’s injury.
Liverpool were running rampant and dominated Aston Villa from start to finish in an emphatic 3-0 win, but with just under 20 minutes to play, the 24-year-old stand-in captain was on the end of a hard challenge and limped to the sidelines.
The full-back then had a scan to assess the extent of the damage, where he was shown to have picked up a minor hamstring strain that would rule him out for around two weeks.
There was some speculation amongst the fanbase about the timing of Alexander-Arnold’s injury coming just before the international break, mainly because many of his injuries in the past have conveniently occurred just before international friendlies (March 2022, October 2021, November 2020 and March 2019).
READ MORE: Gary Lineker backs Trent Alexander-Arnold to ‘dominate’ as a midfielder
Saturday’s game against Wolves will come marginally short of Alexander-Arnold’s estimated two weeks on the sidelines, and the defender was not seen in training with Liverpool on Thursday morning, and is currently in a race against time to be fit enough to feature at the weekend remains.
Without him Joe Gomez will likely move to right back, which could in turn mean a first start for Jarell Quansah at centre back.
GAME TIME FOR GRAVENBERCH?
The only summer signing fans are yet to see in action is Ryan Gravenberch, and Saturday’s clash with Wolves could be the perfect time for Klopp to introduce the Dutchman.
Despite officially becoming a Liverpool player before the Aston Villa game, Gravenberch was registered too late and was unable to feature.
However, with the Reds playing the early kick-off straight after the international break, many of the club’s starters involved in action over the past two weeks could perhaps be benched to allow them time to recover.
When combined with the fact that Gravenberch opted to remain in Merseyside to train and get up to speed, rather than going away with the Netherlands’ Under-21s, Klopp could well start the 21-year-old.
He will certainly be one of the most well-rested options in midfield, and fans are itching to see what he can do, but whether Klopp trusts him to make an impact this early remains to be seen.
WILL ANY SOUTH AMERICANS START?
Alisson Becker, ProShots
If Liverpool were to play their best possible starting XI, you could argue that all four of their South Americans would feature. Alisson Becker is the best keeper in the world, Alexis Mac Allister has been a revelation in midfield since signing in the summer, while Darwin Nuñez and Luis Diaz are in electric form.
However, due to the amount of travel involved in their respective international fixtures, their starting positions are almost certainly going to be in doubt against Wolves.
Alisson is the most likely of the four to start. He may have done a lot of travelling, but he was an unused substitute in both of Brazil’s fixtures, with Manchester City rival Ederson preferred in between the sticks.
READ MORE: Alisson among Liverpool’s highest-paid players after pay rise
Mac Allister was a pivotal player for Argentina, and played 85 minutes in their win against Bolivia late on Tuesday night, while Diaz racked up 71 minutes for Colombia as recently as Wednesday morning.
Finally, Nuñez not only played for Uruguay on Tuesday night, but he was withdrawn as a result of “muscular difficulties” and missed Liverpool training on Thursday morning.
Even if Liverpool’s South Americans are deemed fit in time for the clash with Wolves, Klopp now has a stacked midfield and attack line, and risking players when other competent alternatives are available would be risky.
The most likely outcome would be for Liverpool’s latest returning players to make appearances from the bench.
WHO PLAYS IN DEFENCE?
While Liverpool have plenty of cover higher up the pitch, their most depleted area by far is in defence. This was the case before the international break, but even two weeks later, there are lots of question marks in the defensive third.
As mentioned, Alexander-Arnold still hasn’t trained for the club since picking up his injury, making him a doubt for Wolves, and there are also still question marks regarding Ibrahima Konate’s fitness (given his injury record, it wouldn’t be wise to rush his return).
This is in addition to the long-term injury sustained by right-back understudy Conor Bradley, and the extra one-match ban imposed on Virgil van Dijk for his reaction to his sending off against Newcastle last month.
Therefore, Liverpool currently only have Gomez, Quansah, Joel Matip, Andy Robertson, and Kostas Tsimikas as available options in defence, and if that is the case, it’s expected that everyone apart from the latter will start on Saturday.
While far from ideal, Quansah will no doubt jump at the opportunity to play more Premier League minutes after impressing in pre-season and in his cameo performance against Aston Villa.