Jurgen Klopp is considering omitting Liverpool's Xherdan Shaqiri for the Champions League match against the Red Star in Belgrade.
Klopp is concerned that the inclusion of Shaqiri may be a distraction given the hostile reaction the player might expect to receive from Serbian fans. The 27-year-old was born in Kosovo, a state whose independence is not recognized by the Serbian government.
When Shaqiri made a point of celebrating his heritage – he used the Kosovo flag in his boot when playing for Switzerland at the World Cup – he was charged with provocation. Although Red Star fans were banished from Anfield when the teams met two weeks ago, those who found their way were ridiculed whenever Shaqiri took office. It was a preview of what would be in the store tomorrow.
Liverpool optimist goes to Belgrade with Klopp optimistic, despite being two points behind Manchester City in the title race. The coach believes that much is being read for the outcome of the games at this stage.
"His job is to make one end of each game, so if we lose at Arsenal then the whole match was average or worse," he said.
"If we lose in Belgrade, then it's football, it can happen, we have to look at it a little more calmly, it's important, it's not going to be a kid's party in Belgrade, it's going to be difficult and we have to be ready for it.
"But it's our life. It's not a problem, we take it and analyze it and we will in the next game, find the right alignment and everything is good."
Klopp was happy with Liverpool's performance at Arsenal but there was deep regret in discussing the way Alex Lacazette drew. "The only time we do not close the gap, they punctuate," he said.
All evidence indicates that Manchester City could once again post more than 90 points – and probably closer to 100.
If that's the case, it means that more slips like this – no matter where you are, and who you are playing – will be expensive for Liverpool.
Five points from Tottenham, Chelsea and Arsenal are a very respectable return – not least because Liverpool are undefeated in those games, with good performances to match.
It's just that of his three big away games – against Liverpool, Tottenham and Arsenal – City have two more points.
Klopp has much to ponder in Saturday's game – not least, the performance of Fabinho, who was outclassed in the midfield.
The Brazilian has effectively played in two different roles in the last two games – and this for a player still adjusting to the team and the league.
There is also the feeling that Liverpool's previous attack has not yet come close to being fully fired this season.
There is only one leveling for them, and they are still playing in individual bursts instead of the collective storms they produced last season.
On Saturday, Arsenal set the intensity and pace that Liverpool did last season. On the plus side, their defense – the troubled area of last season – is now the team's best unit. The rest of the team will undoubtedly develop, but the fear is that the city will not be around.
That is why, although there was no winner in the field in the Emirates, there may have been a winner.