Jurgen Klopp has admitted that Liverpool forward Luis Diaz was exhausted after just half an hour of football last night.
Diaz is still working his way back to full fitness having missed six months with a knee injury. The latest step in his comeback came with a second consecutive start during Wednesday’s 1-0 win over Fulham. But speaking in his post-match press conference last night, Klopp said the Colombian had found the going ‘tough.’
“I thought they [the front three] did well. We should not forget, you can see with Luis after 30 minutes it’s really tough for him. It’s tough for everybody, we played a lot of games,” said the manager.
“We had a discussion with the coaches, who shall we rest? Is it Cody? Diogo couldn’t train again and I think in the first situation when he was on the pitch tonight, again a knock on the back. I hope that’s now better because he had a proper, proper bruise at the ribs, so it’s really painful. Anybody who had that before knows that. So, shall he start? Cody? How do we do it? That was the outcome – this line-up.
“I thought [Luis] did for long spells really well. As I said, Darwin like a race horse, really motivated, really on fire. That’s important to us and all of them, when Cody and Diogo came on, they were really in the defensive work. They were extremely involved and we had then a few sensational situations where the last pass didn’t go through. Curtis to Mo and stuff like this, where everything is nearly perfect and then the last pass on the foot it is only an inch but in the end it’s maybe half a metre. There we could have done better, but that’s fine. I liked what I saw.”
Diaz working his way back
It’s understandable that Diaz ran out of steam a little as the game went on last night. You can’t miss the amount of football the 26-year-old has and come back looking fresh as a daisy. Klopp had already alluded to his drop-off in power in the run-up to the game.
But to be fair to Diaz, he didn’t exactly look to be completely off the pace – far from it. The South American went off on one of his trademark half-a-pitch runs on more than one occasion and ran hard the other way, too.
The only thing that slightly betrayed his fitness was perhaps his decision making on the ball. Maybe a little overly tired, once or twice Diaz just made the wrong pace in the final third. Put it down to mental fatigue after being thrust back in to the rigours of Premier League football.
Still, if this is what a shattered Lucho looks like, then we’re fine with that. He still gave the Fulham defence an almighty fright a couple of times and retained his tenacity at both ends of the pitch.
As Klopp looks ahead to Brentford though, we don’t think Diaz will be in the XI for a third time running. Not because of anything he’s done poorly, but it makes sense to give him a rest after two starts in four days.
With Jota still nursing an issue, that should mean a front three of Gakpo, Nunez and Salah on Saturday. Diaz can then bring his fresh legs off the bench to torment tiring ones in the Bees defence. Keep at it Lucho, one step at a time!