Liverpool have packed fixtures as they chase a top four finish this season. The rescheduling hands lifelines to certain players.
Liverpool were supposed to face Manchester United last weekend, of course. Instead, that’ll happen on Thursday after a fan protest postponed the game.
The result is a tough set of fixtures for a team chasing the top four. It starts at home against Southampton today.
Then comes three games in six days – all away from Anfield. Those are the big ones.
Jurgen Klopp will have to manage his squad to near perfection as Liverpool can’t really afford to slip up. They’re seven points off fourth, nine off third, and with only five games remaining.
The Reds, surely, must win every remaining game if they’re to play in the Champions League next season. The fixture list makes that tough.
How can Klopp reasonably expect his players to be at their best for three back-to-back away games? Let alone when they’re all in the space of three days.
It’ll be tiring, both mentally and physically. It’s why we think Klopp may only put out his best XI for the Manchester United game.
That comes on Thursday and will almost certainly necessitate the best possible team. But for the following Sunday against West Brom, the boss must rest some players.
The same goes for the Burnley game just three days after that. Klopp will have to rotate players to ensure few play all three – certainly not all three 90 minutes.
That, as we see it, is Liverpool’s best chance of getting the wins they need. Make sure the entire squad is used and make sure fresh players are out there every time.
And that hands lifelines to certain players who were a little out in the cold at the moment. The likes of Naby Keita, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Kostas Tsimikas, Xherdan Shaqiri and – if he can get fit again – Divock Origi.
These are all squad players who Klopp has been reluctant to call on recently. For some, the boss hasn’t wanted to use them much all season.
And that may have led to them being on the fringes for the final games as Liverpool chase win after win. With no room for a slip-up, Klopp couldn’t really afford to throw in players he doesn’t entirely trust.
If he didn’t have to, that is. But we think he might.
The adapted fixtures will put extra pressure on legs at Liverpool and that calls for rotation if they’re to finish top four. As a result, these players will almost certainly gets games where they weren’t going to.
And as we head into a big summer at the club, perhaps they get another chance to show why Liverpool should keep them around long-term.