When will Jurgen Klopp be able to launch his strongest squad? This question gnaws at everyone at Liverpool.
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So far, nothing can be said for sure. No plans can be made. The already difficult championship race threatens to become even more difficult.
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Historically, January is a critical month. We already knew that the team would lose Salah, Mane, and Keita, but there were some surprises. Once again, the covid reminded of himself, and this time he removed van Dijk, Fabinho, and Jones from the squad. On Saturday, Thiago was added to the number of cases – the Spaniard fell ill for the second time.
Captain Jordan Henderson came to London for the game against Tottenham, but came down with a cold and went back. Once again, the midfield was left without all the stars. Once again, Klopp had to look for alternatives. There is no hope for Andrew Robertson either – having received a red card for a foul at Emerson Royal, he secured a Christmas with his family.
It was only the eighth red in Klopp’s six years in England, and the first in two years. Robertson is set to return by January 2 for a confrontation with Chelsea, but it all depends on whether Leicester and Leeds playback.
Will Salah and Mane be able to help the team? The African Cup of Nations still raises many questions. While some demand that it take place at the usual time, others insist that it should either be postponed to June or transferred from Cameroon to Doha.
The Reds also risk losing Takumi Minamino in January – Japan is set to play two postponed World Cup matches against China and Saudi Arabia.
Sounds awful, but Klopp has long been accustomed to rotation. This season, he only played the same squad for two matches once.
Who knows what tests await him next. The end of December is a period of uncertainty. But all this has already passed. Last season, the attempt to defend the title failed largely due to injuries to the defenders. And here again, the entire impressive line-up of Liverpool is dissolving before our eyes. In the match against Tottenham, there was neither Fabinho, Hendersen, nor Thiago in the center. As a result, a trio entered the field, hoping to play in the League Cup with Leicester.
In defense, Liverpool looked unconvincing – Matip and Konate felt insecure in the absence of midfielders. The attackers were not covered, and the hosts looked formidable on counterattacks.
Young Tyler Morton made his debut from the first minutes, while Milner and Keita did not start from October.
A graduate of the club academy, Morton has progressed by leaps and bounds this season. When his teammate Milner began his career at Newcastle in 2002, Morton was only ten days old. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, who was on vacation recently, returned to the team. Firmino, Gomez, Minamino, and Williams also expect to enter the field.
The match with the Spurs made it clear that the Reds were tired. This was especially noticeable against the background of a rested opponent: before the break, Liverpool had 70 percent of the ownership, and after – only 42.
But if Harry Kane got that red, Liverpool would have won – no one doubts that. If Diogo Jota had earned that penalty, the team would not have surrendered. Klopp did not protest against the red Robertson, but the rest of the referee’s decisions greatly outraged him.
“It’s difficult for us now. I don’t know what lineup I can bet on the match, because the test results are waiting for me in the morning. The situation is difficult, but we will play while we are told to play.”