Jurgen Klopp should make the call to just use James Milner in the Champions League for the rest of the season.
Liverpool know full well that they must be at their best in every game and that a loss in any of their four – potentially five – remaining games would be devastating.
And yet we’re seeing how little Klopp wants to change things around. Mo Salah and Sadio Mane both played the full 90 minues against Huddersfield, for instance. The Liverpool boss admitted afterwards to Sky Sports that it’s ‘difficult’ substituting either of them – he instead asked them not to track back to conserve energy.
It’s not just the front line that plays every game, either. Four of the back five play consistently, Virgil van Dijk’s partner the only question in selection.
And so midfield is where things must be shaken up. Klopp’s favourites in the league appear to be Fabinho, Jordan Henderson, Gini Wijnaldum, and Naby Keita. The latter three started on Friday after Fabinho was missing through injury.
Saving Milner for the Champions League
That leaves Milner available for the Champions League – a competition he thrives in. It creates a nice balance, given there are no more midweek breaks.
Milner broke the Champions League record for assists last season, and has another two goals and two assists this year. He started the win in Munich and both wins over FC Porto, too; in all, he’s now vital in Europe.
And utilising Milner in that competition allows a player to rest ahead of Newcastle United and Wolves. It’s not just the players themselves who benefit from that, either, as the team needs it.
A high-energy, pressing midfield is key to Klopp’s system – we saw it in the first goal against Huddersfield, for a recent example. If Liverpool don’t have that, the whole plan suffers.
Opting to deliberately not use a player you’re paying £120,000-a-week (per the Mirror) is certainly a tricky one.
It’s a call that Klopp needs to make, however, as Milner could be the key to success in Champions League and Premier League this season.