Liverpool’s late midweek defeat to Napoli was the worst possible preparation for Jurgen Klopp’s side ahead of a potential title clash in the Premier League against Manchester City on Sunday, with injury to Naby Keita adding the nail to the coffin.
The summer signing has had an inconsistent start to the campaign since arriving on Merseyside, but his return from a back injury could be decisive.
The former Red Bull Salzburg midfielder’s energy will form a huge part of Jurgen Klopp’s game plan against the Citizens if he is fit and selected.
Last season, the coach relied on Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s speed and energy to press high and exploit spaces in between the Manchester City midfield and defence, a role that Keita could have occupied.
With Jordan Henderson likely to take his place in the midfield three, that energy and pressing will be lost to a deeper and more reserved player.
Whilst Henderson has his own assets, having the presence of Keita’s high press could be the factor that unsettles the City defence just enough to earn the full three points.