Football: Liverpool boss Klopp defends squad rotation after home draws

Klopp shakes hands with West Brom's Kieran Gibbs after a goalless draw, Dec 13, 2017. PHOTO: AFP

LONDON (REUTERS) - Squad rotation was not to blame for Liverpool drawing both of their past two Premier League fixtures, manager Juergen Klopp said on Friday (Dec 15).

Liverpool went into last Sunday's Merseyside derby on the back of five wins from their previous six league games but were held to a 1-1 draw at Anfield by Everton and then to a goalless stalemate at home against West Bromwich Albion on Wednesday.

Klopp made six changes for the Everton match from their 7-0 win over Spartak Moscow in the Champions League and then another six changes for the visit of West Brom.

"Nine days ago we were flying and now I look in your eyes and we have real problems," Klopp told a news conference.

"We had a very important game against Moscow. All the other (English) teams (in the Champions League) were already through in their group and could make changes, but we couldn't do that. It's not about respecting teams less; it's all about us.

"Everton was a good game. We played really well. It was one of the best derbies I saw (Liverpool play), with the wrong result.

"Against West Brom we didn't deserve luck. It was not a good performance. That's it. We didn't have a lot of not-good games in the last few weeks. I don't think it had anything to do with rotation."

The draws against Everton and West Brom saw Liverpool slip from fourth in the Premier League to fifth, 18 points behind leaders Manchester City, ahead of Sunday's trip to face Bournemouth.

Klopp was adamant the draws did not amount to a slump in form.

"We haven't lost it (our form); it's still there," he added. "Why should I be overly concerned that we will always play like we played against West Brom? West Brom did well. It was the first time; it was just one game."

Klopp confirmed that goalkeeper Simon Mignolet would return in place of Loris Karius against Bournemouth.

Defenders Joel Matip, Alberto Moreno and Nathaniel Clyne are all unavailable, Klopp said, while a late decision will be made on the fitness of Daniel Sturridge, who has a tight hamstring.

England midfielder Adam Lallana, who has made only one appearance this season due to a thigh injury, is set to be named in the squad.

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