Jurgen Klopp nailed his selection decision against Aston Villa on Friday. It was more important than it looked, in fact, despite the opposition.
Liverpool only played against kids on Friday. Despite that, Jurgen Klopp made an unusual selection decision against Aston Villa.
He put out quite a strong team – something he doesn’t do in the FA Cup, even against full-strength sides.
This decision is more important than it looks, however. Here are three reasons why.
Liverpool’s next game is against Manchester United in nine days. That’s quite a gap and one that pushes the extent of what good ‘rest’ is.
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Too much of it and you get rusty. Too little and you’re exhausted. And while some players could use a break, not everyone will.
And if Klopp has left those players out, they’d have had a two-week break ahead of the United clash. That’s not a good thing.
So playing the likes of Mohamed Salah and Jordan Henderson does help fitness. Maybe not in terms of exhaustion but certainly for their ‘match fitness’ levels.
Liverpool are in terrible form. Two points from their last possible nine, one goal in three. They need to wake up.
The hope here, then, will be that certain individuals play themselves into good form against the kids. They can take it relatively easy and find some momentum where it’s been lacking.
The benefits could prove immeasurable heading into the United clash – as long as they perform. Giving them the opportunity to play their way back into form feels like the right choice, though.
Liverpool haven’t prioritised the FA Cup in recent years. Klopp put out a reserve side against Everton’s first-team this time in 2020.
But it would be a magnificent statement if they won it this year – especially if they add the Premier League.
Liverpool haven’t won the Double since 1986. Manchester United, Manchester City, Arsenal and Chelsea have all pulled it off since then. It’s effectively the next little Liverpool stain that Klopp can remove.
To follow up Liverpool’s title win with more trophies, in an injury-hit season? It would be a sensational achievement.
There’s a long way to go, of course, but as players begin to return, we can’t help but feel Liverpool can pull it off. Putting out a decent side on Friday is a sign they might just feel the same way.