Liverpool travel to Aston Villa in the FA Cup on Friday with a very different context added to the competition than in recent years. The Premier League champions are walking wounded, and while many expected another season of writing off the domestic cups, possibly even Jürgen Klopp and his first team taking some time off, what we’re left with is a game Liverpool could very much do with winning. That being said, our writers have had their say on what to look out for:

Dan Morgan: A change of formation

I think a change in Liverpool’s shape is indefinitely coming. We saw the introduction of Xherdan Shaqiri early on Monday, a player primed for a 4-2-3-1, and that may have given a small hint to the forthcoming intentions. Although I don’t think it will be fully implemented before Manchester United’s visit to Anfield and before Diogo Jota returns to fitness, there could well be an experiment in this game - something to have a look at.

There are certain things Liverpool simply must do in my opinion. The first is to get more movement in the final third areas. Jota’s return will be key to that, and having another attacker at times when they’ve looked an attacker light could be massive.They also badly need gametime into their fringe players in those areas, and playing with four attackers will in theory offer more of those opportunities should we see the tweak.

Mark Wakefield: Striker intentions

Aside from Fabinho and Andy Robertson, I think pretty much any first-team player should be considered for this one. Given the form of recent games, Liverpool need a win to inject confidence into the squad, as well as to progress to the next round. The FA Cup is a competition I personally want to see us win very much, it’s been 16 years since we last lifted the trophy which is far too long for a club of this stature.

What I’m interested to see is how Klopp goes with his attacking options. Roberto Firmino could start, but if he too is handed a rest then who does the manager turn to? In terms of like-for-like, the only real option is Divock Origi, who hasn’t been great in front of goal this season, to put it mildly. Then you have the question of do you go with Takumi Minamino instead, and like Dan has said change formation to suit the player. There’s also Xherdan Shaqiri to consider as well, and also getting minutes into the legs of Thiago Alcântara and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. Put it this way, it should be a very different FA Cup team to the ones we’ve been accustomed to seeing in the past.

Oliver Connolly: Nat Phillips and Rhys Williams playing together

Klopp should take this match as seriously as any league game. This team needs to win football matches. It needs to re-find its mojo. And for its legacy, it needs to wrack up trophy after trophy; here’s another chance.

Fabinho (to preserve ahead of the Manchester United game) and Robertson (who looks gassed) aside, Klopp should put his strongest XI on the pitch. What will be interesting is to see whether Klopp trusts Nat Phillips and Rhys Williams together. At different points, Klopp has shown faith in both. Southampton represented the first-time there was a true crack in the facade after Phillips’ rough outing against Newcastle, with the manager shuffling Jordan Henderson back alongside Fabinho.

At some point this season, given the injury records of Fabinho and Matip, Klopp will likely be forced to decide whether to start Phillips and Williams together. It’s time to find out -- and in doing so maybe re-evaluate whether the club needs to add a centre-back in January or not.

Joel Rabinowitz: Play Trent back into form

It was difficult watching Alexander-Arnold against Southampton the other night. I struggle to recall many poorer games he’s played for Liverpool. In terms of decision-making, positioning and execution he was miles off it, giving the ball away time and time again.

But I do also think he was massively hindered by what was going on around him, as Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain also struggled in that right-sided number eight role, he had very few opportunities to link up with Mohamed Salah, the right-sided centre-back keeps on changing game by game, and much of the time when he received the ball, he was immediately put under pressure with no viable passing options ahead of him.

It was the continuation of what has been a difficult season for him in general so far, with the exception of a handful of brighter performances here and there. Ordinarily, I wouldn’t even consider starting him in an FA Cup third round game but on this occasion, I’d really like to see him in the lineup.

Liverpool could really do with a result to lift themselves after the drudgery of the past three league games, Alexander-Arnold would really benefit from getting that last performance out of his system quickly, and by the time Manchester United come to Anfield, it will have been nearly two weeks since the Southampton game.

In terms of rhythm, sharpness and confidence, it feels like a good opportunity for Alexander-Arnold to get straight back out there and show why he’s still one of the very best full-backs in world football. The sooner Liverpool have him firing on all cylinders again, the better. It will make the world of difference.