Five ways Liverpool could line up without Dominik Szoboszlai

Panic has spread among Liverpool fans this week, amid reports over Dominik Szoboszlai's injury status.

The Hungarian missed the Reds' 3-1 defeat to Arsenal on Sunday, having only recently made his comeback from a four-game absence as a result of a hamstring issue suffered earlier in January.

Speaking before the game at the Emirates Stadium, Jurgen Klopp revealed: “Dom felt in the same area, or pretty much a similar area, to where he was injured before.

“We cannot take any risk. We have to wait for further assessment but it was clear that he cannot be involved today. That’s it, pretty much.”

Since then, a report in the midfielder's Hungary suggested the 23-year-old could be out for as many as eight games, with the issue potentially sidelining him for four weeks.

While that claim has since been disputed and the club are yet to confirm the true severity of the injury, any absence for Szoboszlai would be blow for Liverpool.

The former RB Leipzig has become a key cog in Klopp's engine room and both a creative and pressing force so far this season.

Liverpool do have options in his absence, though. Here are five ways the Reds could line up without Szoboszlai.

1. Alexander-Arnold - Mac Allister - Jones

Trent Alexander-Arnold, Arsenal vs Liverpool

Football - FA Cup - 3rd Round - Arsenal FC v Liverpool FC LONDON, ENGLAND - Sunday, January 7, 2024: Liverpool s Trent Alexander-Arnold celebrates their side s openimg goal during the FA Cup 3rd Round match between Arsenal FC and Liverpool FC at the Emirates Stadium. Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda LONDON Emirates Stadium GREATER LONDON ENGLAND PUBLICATIONxNOTxINxUK Copyright: xPropagandaxPhotoxAgencyx P2024-01-07-Arsenal_Liverpool-74

One potentially very popular option would be to move Trent Alexander-Arnold into a pure midfield role as a true 'eight', alongside regular starters Alexis Mac Allister and Curtis Jones.

The 25-year-old vice-captain has stepped into midfield on a semi-regular basis for Liverpool already and put in game-defining turns from an advanced role in the matches against Fulham and Manchester City back in December.

While he may not be able to replicate Szoboszlai's running and pressing stats, he would be a more than adequate creative replacement.

This switch would also open up the possibility for the in-form Conor Bradley to continue at right back.

2. Mac Allister - Endo - Jones

Football - FA Premier League - Arsenal FC v Liverpool FC LONDON, ENGLAND - Sunday, February 4, 2024: Liverpool s Alexis Mac Allister looks dejected as Arsenal score the second goal during the FA Premier League match between Arsenal FC and Liverpool FC at the Emirates Stadium. Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda LONDON Emirates Stadium GREATER LONDON ENGLAND PUBLICATIONxNOTxINxUK Copyright: xDavidxRawcliffex P2024-02-04-Arsenal_Liverpool-67

Another possibility would be to allow Alexis Mac Allister to move into a more advanced role, with Wataru Endo taking over as the holding midfielder.

The World Cup winner has, almost exclusively, been used at the base of Klopp's midfield since joining Liverpool this summer, despite the bulk of his previous experience coming as a more traditional 'number eight'.

While there were question marks over his suitability to the deep-lying position, Mac Allister has shone as a 'six' in recent weeks and looks to have made the position his own.

However, this switch would allow him more creative freedom — something many are still eager to see — while also opening up a return to the lineup for Endo, who has only just returned to contention after Japan were eliminated from the Asian Cup at the quarter final stage.

3. Mac Allister - Thiago - Jones

West Ham United v Liverpool FC - Premier League Thiago Alcantara of Liverpool in action during the Premier League match between West Ham United and Liverpool at the London Stadium, Stratford on Wednesday 26th April 2023. Stratford Greater London United Kingdom PUBLICATIONxNOTxINxFRA Copyright: xMIxNewsx originalFilename:fletcher-westhamu230426_npppf.jpg

Like with Alexander-Arnold being pushed forward, the idea of seeing Thiago Alcantara at the base of midfield (or even as an 'eight') would be a popular one among the fans — though perhaps a notion best reserved for select fixtures.

Thiago made his long-awaited comeback in Sunday's defeat to Arsenal, after a ten-months absence that followed hip surgery last spring.

The 32-year-old is in the final months of his contract and has never been a player Klopp could reliable upon in terms of availability, but he remains an incredibly classy operator who brings a totally different dynamic to the Reds' engine room.

Recently, Diogo Jota described the former Barcelona and Bayern Munich star as the most technically gifted teammate he has ever played with.

This option could also work with any number of the Reds' other midfielders lining up alongside Thiago. However, players with more industry would be preferable.

4. Elliott - Mac Allister - Jones

Football - FA Premier League - Wolverhampton Wanderers FC v Liverpool FC WOLVERHAMPTON, ENGLAND - Saturday, September 16, 2023: Liverpool s Harvey Elliott L celebrates with team-mate Curtis Jones after scoring the third goal during the FA Premier League match between Wolverhampton Wanderers FC and Liverpool FC at Molineux Stadium. WOLVERHAMPTON Molineux Stadium WEST MIDLANDS ENGLAND PUBLICATIONxNOTxINxUK Copyright: xDavidxRawcliffex P2023-09-16-Wolves_Liverpool-115

Still only 20, Harvey Elliott made 46 appearances in all competitions for Liverpool last season.

The youngster was regularly the best thing about the Reds' engine room during a pretty dismal campaign, but has become a casualty of the summer rebuild and been pushed right down the pecking order in 2023/24.

A regular in the cups, Elliott has started just three times in the Premier League, with Szoboszlai's presence reducing the former Fulham star to the role of occasional super-sub — a moniker he'd rather shake off.

Now could be the moment for the England Under-21 star to prove his worth in the run-in. Elliott has, at times, looked at sea physically in the middle of the park but there is no denying his creative output.

5. Gravenberch - Mac Allister - Jones

Football - Football League Cup - Semi-Final 1st Leg - Liverpool FC v Fulham FC LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Wednesday, January 10, 2024: Liverpool s Ryan Gravenberch during the Football League Cup Semi-Final 1st Leg match between Liverpool FC and Fulham FC at Anfield. Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda LIVERPOOL Anfield MERSEYSIDE ENGLAND PUBLICATIONxNOTxINxUK Copyright: xDavidxRawcliffex P2024-01-10-Liverpool_Fulham-35

Like with Elliott, Gravenberch is an obvious 'like for like' solution in the middle, though he represents a very different player to Szoboszlai.

The 21-year-old Dutchman has perhaps been the least immediately successful of the quarter of summer arrivals and has come under fire for his performances of late.

However, it is worth remembering both Gravenberch's age and the fact that many of the best signings under Klopp took a while to bed in properly (see: Andy Robertson, Fabinho etc etc).

A lacklustre display against Arsenal may mean he is switched out for the visit of Burnley this weekend, but the highly rated former Bayern Munich star (who has five goal contributions in just 15 starts in all competitions this season) remains a useful weapon for the variety of fixtures the Reds have on the horizon.

Wildcard options:

Beyond the above options, there are more players that Klopp could yet call on, depending on the length of Szoboszlai's injury.

Cody Gakpo has played a midfield role (with mixed results) already this season and could be used there again if needed, while promising youngsters James McConnell and Bobby Clark are among the academy stars itching for more minutes. The FA Cup fifth round will likely be a chance for them to see more pitch time.

And finally, with Thiago making his much-anticipated comeback, eyes are now on when fellow long-term midfield absentee Stefan Bajcetic might return to contention.

The 19-year-old has made just two appearances this season, following setbacks in his recovery from an injury that cut short his breakout campaign in 2022/23.

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