Jamie Carragher has said that the likes of Joel Matip, Jordan Henderson and Georginio Wijnaldum are by no means secure in their place in the Liverpool team this season, saying that sort of competition for places could be essential to their ambitions for the season ahead.
All three started the 3-1 victory over Arsenal, and turned in key performances as the Reds comfortably brushed aside Unai Emery's men at Anfield, with Matip opening the scoring with a towering header late in the first half.
The Cameroonian has established himself as the first choice partner to Virgil van Dijk after injury forced Joe Gomez out of the team in the second half of last season, and Carragher said that while he should remain first choice for now, his spot is one of three within the team that will be tightly contested.
“I think this fella [Matip], because you’re alongside Virgil van Dijk, he doesn’t get talked about a lot. That’s normal, the other fella next to him is a superstar," Carragher said on Sky Sports following the win.
“But I couldn’t believe he didn’t start the season. His performances at the back end of last season were outstanding. And actually when he’s come in I think he’s actually made a difference to Liverpool.
“Obviously Joe Gomez can play right-back or centre-back, but for me at this moment it looks a bit more solid with Matip in there. He should be [first choice]. I think he is right now.
“Liverpool’s back four and goalkeeper picks itself and there’s just one position – who is going to play alongside Virgil van Dijk.
“And you need that within a squad. I always feel in a team there should be seven or eight absolute starters who know they are playing as soon as they are fit and everyone knows they are playing, and there should always be three or four positions up for grabs.”
He went on, adding that while much of the team is set in stone, the likes of Wijnaldum and Henderson could easily lose their places due to the midfield options available to Klopp.
“I wouldn’t say they are up for grabs, the players who have got the shirt now [Jordan Henderson and Georginio Wijnaldum] are first choice now, but you could easily see Oxlade-Chamberlain going in there, Naby Keita when he’s fit, James Milner.
“The front three picks itself but you should always have three or four within a team who are up for grabs. Centre-back is one of them, at this moment it’s Joel Matip and I don’t see that changing.”