Jürgen Klopp must make brutal Naby Keïta call before Man United as Liverpool handed big injury boost

In his fledgling Liverpool career so far, Curtis Jones is yet to start a game against Manchester United in the Premier League.

But that could change this Sunday.

He may have started out on the periphery of the squad, and even excluded from Liverpool’s matchday squad early on in the season against Chelsea, but Jones has fought himself back into contention.

Jones has reacted positively to being shun, with stupendous displays when given the opportunity.

In 368 minutes of action to date, Jones has averaged a goal contribution average of 0.98 per 90 — very close to a goal every game.

It’s fair to say he is in good form.

In his last four games for club and country, Jones has amassed four assists and one goal before an injury ruled him out of Liverpool’s trip to Vicarage Road and the Wanda Metropolitano following the international break.

Klopp’s irritated remarks lamenting the loss of Jones for those key encounters shows just how quickly and how far the Liverpool midfielder has accelerated in the pecking order.

“When we talk about federations, Curtis Jones came back from England U-21s injured. Great! It’s hard to get in touch with them. They played Andorra, really important he played there,” Klopp said in his press conference last week.

Klopp confirmed on Friday afternoon that Jones will be available for selection against Manchester United and after Liverpool’s midfield were exposed by Atletico Madrid in midweek, Jones should find himself immediately in the starting XI.

His positional rival, Naby Keïta, failed to impress despite a sublime goal midweek and was plucked off at half-time by Klopp in a poor defensive outing.

When looking at the metrics, Jones is superior to the Guinean in almost every measure, especially when it comes to defensive contributions.

According to Wyscout, Keïta won just 37.3 per cent of his 8.14 defensive duels per 90 last season. In contrast to Jones who won 60.4 per cent of his 6.64 defensive duels per 90. Jones also made more recoveries (6.31 to 5.95) and was only narrowly outperformed by Keïta for interceptions with 4.13 per 90 compared to 3.61.

But replacing Jones with Keïta will not negate Keïta’s offensive influence either.

Jones is capable of the high counter-pressing game that is a core element of Keïta’s play averaging 24.8 pressures per 90 according to FBref in comparison to Keïta who averages 24.2 pressures per 90.

On the ball, if anything, Jones is superior to Keïta at bringing the ball forward.

He averaged 10 progressive runs per 90 last season in comparison to Keïta’s 8.62 per 90 and when it comes to shot-creating actions, Jones trumped Keïta once again with an average of 2.82 per 90 in contrast to 2.60.

Coming up against the likes of Paul Pogba, Bruno Fernandes, Jadon Sancho and Marcus Rashford, Liverpool will be facing a lot of players who are adept at one vs one battles. With Jones the superior player to Keïta in this regard, Klopp’s choice should be a straightforward one this weekend.

He’ll hope his first start against Manchester United in the league will be a memorable one.

Considering his last outing at Old Trafford, in a 20-minute cameo, reaped an assist for Mohamed Salah, the omens are good.

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