Two sides on opposite ends of multiple-goal showdowns last week do battle in Tuesday’s Champions League Group A contest at Anfield, as Liverpool play host to Ajax.
Jurgen Klopp‘s side were ripped to shreds 4-1 by Napoli on matchday one, while Alfred Schreuder‘s side hit Rangers for four without reply.
The inquest into Liverpool’s demise at the Stadio Diego Armando Maradona continued into the weekend, as the Reds – along all other Premier League teams – saw their matches postponed in the wake of Queen Elizabeth II’s death.
As a result, Klopp and his coaching staff were granted extra time to conduct their analysis of their Italian horror show, as Piotr Zielinski (2), Andre Zambo Anguissa and Giovanni Simeone all condemned Liverpool to a humiliating loss on matchday one.
Luis Diaz‘s consolation was all the travelling Reds faithful had to cheer against the Partenopei, which saw Liverpool’s underwhelming start to the new campaign reach a low ebb, and they are already playing catch-up in the fight to make the last-16.
The Reds occupy third spot in the fledgling standings after one match – which would lead to a transfer to the Europa League – but the Anfield crowd can take solace in the fact that their side have won their last two on home territory and have never begun a Champions League campaign with back-to-back losses before.
All in all, Liverpool’s unbeaten run at Anfield now stands at 10 matches in all tournaments since Inter Milan’s inconsequential 1-0 success on Merseyside last term, but their upcoming opponents managed to achieve a feat that was snatched out of their grasp last weekend.
Ajax and Liverpool were two of only three clubs to obtain a perfect 18 points in last season’s group stage – the other being Bayern Munich – but the Reds failed to become the first-ever English side to win seven Champions League group games on the bounce last week.
In contrast, the Eredivisie champions were in seventh heaven themselves as they taught Rangers a footballing lesson in a 4-0 success, with Edson Alvarez, Steven Berghuis, Mohammed Kudus and Steven Bergwijn coming up with the goods in Amsterdam.
There have been no signs of a post-Erik ten Hag hangover for the dominant Dutch champions this term, as they extended their winning streak to seven matches with a 5-0 Eredivisie thrashing of Heerenveen at the weekend, with Kudus keeping his momentum going with a brace on the day.
Schreuder’s side have not faced the most daunting of starts to their domestic season, but their Champions League nous was as alive as ever against Rangers, and the visitors have now kept five clean sheets on the bounce in all tournaments ahead of Tuesday’s crunch clash.
Furthermore, Ajax have only posted two defeats from their last 25 away matches in all European competition, although their most recent such loss did come at Anfield courtesy of a 1-0 scoreline in 2020 – just six weeks after the Reds had also prevailed by a solitary goal in Amsterdam.
The return to fitness of Thiago Alcantara against Napoli was a welcome boost to Klopp’s depleted midfield, as the Reds prepare to work without Jordan Henderson, Naby Keita, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Curtis Jones once again.
Fabio Carvalho will expect to force his way into contention having had ample time to recover from a dead leg, but Ibrahima Konate, Calvin Ramsay and Caoimhin Kelleher are also nursing issues of their own, and the former two are certainly set to miss out again. Andy Robertson will miss out too, having sustained a knee injury late on against Napoli.
Thiago’s return to fitness should tempt Klopp into dropping James Milner from the first XI following his dismal outing in Napoli, while Joel Matip will expect to take the place of Joe Gomez in the heart of defence.
With Liverpool scheduled to take on Chelsea this Sunday, Klopp may still take this opportunity to rejig his attacking line with the inclusion of Diogo Jota in place of a misfiring Mohamed Salah.
During the latter stages of Ajax’s contest with Rangers, celebrations quickly turned to concern for Bergwijn, who pulled up injured immediately after scoring his side’s fourth but was given the green light to return against Heerenveen.
Left-back Owen Wijndal has returned to training following an ankle injury, but the clash with Liverpool will come too soon for him, and Ajax were forced to finish their 5-0 win over Heerenveen with 10 men after Calvin Bassey took a knock to the foot.
Schreuder affirmed after the game that the centre-back did not sustain any serious damage and could therefore be in contention for a start this week, while 20-year-old Kenneth Taylor should also hold his spot in the first XI.
Liverpool possible starting lineup:
Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Matip, Van Dijk, Tsimikas; Elliott, Fabinho, Thiago; Jota, Nunez, Diaz
Ajax possible starting lineup:
Pasveer; Rensch, Timber, Bassey, Blind; Berghuis, Alvarez, Taylor; Tadic, Kudus, Bergwijn
Liverpool’s extra period of rest may work in their favour fitness-wise, especially when it comes to the likes of Thiago and Arthur Melo, but Klopp would have surely wanted the opportunity to gain an injection of confidence before the visit of an Ajax side who only know how to win.
The Reds’ lacklustre rearguard cannot expect to keep a rampant Ajax attack at bay, but a refreshed Liverpool front line can turn up the heat at the Anfield fortress to rescue a point for the under-performing hosts.
For data analysis of the most likely results, scorelines and more for this match please click here.