Football: Rotation is the key, says Klopp

Andy Robertson.
Andy Robertson.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

He says fight for places is crucial to upholding standards, ahead of today's Newcastle match

LONDON • Jurgen Klopp believes that Liverpool's strength in depth is keeping his squad "awake" as they look to maintain momentum at home and abroad.

Liverpool have finished in the top three and reached the quarter-finals of a European competition in the same season on only four occasions since 1991-92, but are now on course to improve that statistic.

Klopp's side have effectively reached the last eight of the Champions League with their 5-0 first-leg victory over Porto - who arrive at Anfield next Tuesday for the resumption of hostilities - and are third in the Premier League, two points behind second-placed Manchester United.

The Liverpool manager, whose first season in 2015-16 ended with his side eighth in the top flight and losing Europa League finalists, said that the competition for places in his squad was crucial to upholding standards.

"In my first season when we got to the Europa League final after 64 games, it was difficult to manage," Klopp said, ahead of today's Premier League home clash with Newcastle.

"That was not a Liverpool problem but a general problem. If you have no European football, you train all week and prepare for the next game. In England, you have games every two or three days.

"Rotation is not always about resting players, it's about using the competition in the squad to get them to perform again. It's about making pressure.

  • SPOILT FOR CHOICE

  • Jurgen Klopp cited Liverpool's strength in the full-back positions when referring to the depth of his squad, as both his right-backs and left-backs have played regularly in the Premier League this season. Specifically at left-back, statistics show both Andy Robertson and Alberto Moreno are equally capable of replacing each other when called upon.

    THE TIMES, LONDON

  • LEFT-BACKS

    ANDY ROBERTSON
    Minutes 1,335
    Games played 15
    Games started 15
    Clean sheets 5

    ALBERTO MORENO
    Minutes 1,083
    Games played 13
    Games started 12
    lean sheets 5

    RIGHT-BACKS

    JOE GOMEZ
    Minutes 1,631

    TRENT ALEXANDER-ARNOLD
    Minutes 979

"At the moment, all the players are fit and want to play. That is a good sign. They are keeping the pressure up with their performances. There is Trent (Alexander-Arnold), for example.

"Now Joe (Gomez) needs to show up after being out for one or two games. Stuff like that.

"Alberto (Moreno) went out with injury then Robbo (Andrew Robertson) came in.

"I do not need to say anything. They see and it keeps them awake for the rest of the season because there is a lot to go for."

Liverpool head into today's game at Anfield with a fully fit squad at Klopp's disposal and the German added: "You need a bit of luck. Chelsea last year played with pretty much the same team. That is cool. It helps.

"Obviously you need that luck in that situation. We have not had too much luck, but we have been able to rotate in this area pretty much through the season.

"If it stays like this, it will help us for sure."

For Newcastle boss Rafa Benitez, he is relishing his return to Liverpool, where he was manager from 2004-10.

"We won so many things there and I enjoyed every minute. My family are still there. The connection is still there," the Spaniard said.

"Liverpool is a great team, scoring a lot of goals. We have to be strong enough mentally and physically to compete with them."

One thing for sure, Benitez will not be receiving any welcome gifts from Klopp today.

"I like Rafa Benitez as a person but we've given enough presents to him. We were 2-0 up at Anfield last season and drew 2-2," the Liverpool manager told a press conference yesterday.

THE TIMES, LONDON

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 03, 2018, with the headline 'Rotation is the key: Klopp'. Print Edition | Subscribe