Liverpool fans had their nerves put the test yet again as the Reds gave away two penalties and saw two starting players substituted through injury, but Jurgen Klopp did his best to dispel fears surrounding his players’ fitness levels.
James Milner was substituted at half-time for Alberto Moreno as the Englishman complained of pain in his calf and the Liverpool staff didn’t want to risk him. Daniel Sturridge was also withdrawn from the game after what seemed to be a relatively innocuous challenge from Sunderland’s Papy Djilobodji.
Speaking in his post-match press conference, Jurgen Klopp said, “[Sturridge] got a knock on his right ankle. I don’t think it’s too bad.
“[Milner] felt like he got a knock on the calf, but he didn’t know exactly if he got a knock. So then we needed to be really careful, so that’s why we made a change.”
Klopp also mentioned that Henderson, who was absent for the return to his old club, will also miss Liverpool’s FA Cup third-round tie with Plymouth Argyle at Anfield due to the heel issue he picked up against Manchester City on New Year’s Eve.
When asked how long he expected to be without his captain, Klopp said, “I don’t know exactly. Hopefully, it’s not too serious, but the FA Cup will be difficult.”
I must admit that it’s somewhat worrying that Klopp is uncertain about the return dates of a number of his injured stars. Joel Matip has been missing for five games now and there is little talk of a return date and given Henderson’s poor record with heel injuries, there is cause for concern.
Liverpool are still second in the Premier League but are five points adrift of league leaders Chelsea, who have a game in hand and the chance to extend their lead to eight points. With Sadio Mane departing for the African Cup of Nations, Coutinho is needed back in the side to compensate for the departure of one of the best attackers in the side.
Liverpool’s next three league games come against Manchester United, Swansea City and Chelsea, meaning it’s make or break for a Liverpool side struggling to find the form which propelled them to the summit of the Premier League.
Do you think Liverpool can catch up with Chelsea or do you think the Blues have the title in the bag?