Scott Groom explains why Liverpool fans should be positive despite Jurgen Klopp suffering with something of an injury crisis at the moment.
Injuries to Sadio Mané, Mo Salah, Naby Keita and Virgil van Dijk during the international break have sent Liverpool fans into a bit of a meltdown – with many fans directing their frustration towards those responsible for organising the international football calendar.
The injuries not only come at a time that could be crucial to Liverpool’s season, both domestically and in Europe, but also in crucial positions and those on the treatment table are arguably a trio of Jürgen Klopp’s most important players.
While the news struck a dagger through the heart of many Liverpool fans, there are, however, reasons to be cheerful despite having a number of players facing a spell on the sidelines. Here, I’ve taken a look at five reasons to remain optimistic as the Premier League makes its much-anticipated return.
Liverpool’s next opponents are Huddersfield
With the greatest respect, Huddersfield are perhaps not the most daunting of sides to face at any stage of the season and are probably one of the sides the Reds would have hoped to play immediately after an international break.
This alone perhaps lightens the burden of the ever-growing injury list that Klopp has inherited in recent days, as he can shuffle his pack a little, make a couple of changes and still field a team that is more than capable of getting three points against The Terriers and his best bud David Wagner.
Peripheral squad members such as Xherdan Shaqiri, Fabinho and Daniel Sturridge may well feature on Saturday as injuries force Klopp’s hand to rotate his squad.
Liverpool’s squad is one of the best in recent times
It is the likes of these fringe players that I’ve just mentioned that we can find more solace amid an injury nightmare – Klopp now has far better options at his disposal should he need to make changes.
If we look at the midfield alone, we have eight players to choose from for the midfield three when everyone is fit which is competition enough.
But even now with Chamberlain and Keita definitely set to miss games in the near future (with Ox obviously sidelined for considerably longer), and James Milner still not certain whether he’ll be fit enough to take part on Saturday at least, there are five players all vying for three positions in the middle.
Three of those are out and out central midfielders in Henderson, Fabinho and Wijnaldum, with Lallana and Shaqiri also able to play more centrally to add a bit of dynamism to proceedings.
These two can also slot into the front three along with a rejuvenated Daniel Sturridge
Then we look at the back should van Dijk not be fit. We’ve got Lovren and Matip who can ably deputise alongside the imperious Joe Gomez.
When you look at these options compared to when Klopp took over three years ago, it doesn’t even compare does it?
Lallana’s return comes at the perfect time
With fresh injuries aplenty, it’s really nice to see a familiar face return to the fold as Adam Lallana looks on the verge of making a return to a matchday squad for the first time since last season.
The former Saints man has endured a torrid past couple of seasons with injuries but looks like he seems to be moving past this – and with apt timing too.
At a time when there are cries for creativity in the midfield and when a few injuries have hit, he could really provide a breath of fresh air.
Lallana is versatile and direct, skilful and hard-working and fits the mould of a perfect Klopp player. He can play in the midfield or the front three should Klopp see fit and will really provide a boost and another option to bolster the options available as we head into another busy set of fixtures.
Klopp’s record after international breaks is sublime
Courtesy of an article in the Liverpool Echo, stats indicate that the Red have lost only one of last 12 fixtures immediately following an international break in the last three years under Klopp. Pretty good going all things considered.
Having your players away for the best part of two weeks, playing different tactics to then come back to Merseyside from all four corners of the world to then compete at their absolute best rarely happens.
Yet Klopp has only lost on a single occasion, showing his ability to work around problems to get things moving again.
Huddersfield gives Liverpool a perfect opportunity to do this, representing a slightly easier test than that awaiting Jose Mourinho, as he takes his Manchester United team to Chelsea.
All-in-all, Klopp has the tools, the know-how and the foundations that he has built, as well as the returning reinforcements to carry Liverpool through this tricky spell relatively unscathed. Well, here’s hoping anyway.