Few people connected to Liverpool— players, coaches, fans— are happy about Saturday’s 1-1 draw at home to Burnley. A lack of cutting edge in attack combined with sloppiness in defense to allow Burnley— Burnley— to leave Anfield with a point.
Even Jürgen Klopp, who saw at least some positives to take away from the team’s performance, wasn’t at all pleased with the result.
The result was enough to overshadow the other big story of the day: the return of Philippe Coutinho to the Starting XI. He acquitted himself well enough, creating some good movement in the attacking third and taking a few promising shots on goal. None of those efforts bore fruit, but he posed a threat through much of the game. He seemed to at least resemble the Coutinho we all knew and loved, before, uh, all that stuff happened.
But the Brazilian wasn’t able to put in a full 90 minutes. Late in the second half, Klopp made the decision to replace him in favor of Dominic Solanke. (He also swapped Roberto Firmino for Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.) In post-match comments, Klopp said his reasoning was straight-forward: he didn’t want to risk pushing Coutinho too hard, too soon.
“He did well. He needs rhythm, that's normal. I didn't want to change him at the end, that's why it looked a bit confused as we brought the subs on. I asked him to stand up, but then obviously when we got the drinks in this little interruption we saw. It was only a cramp but it was maybe better to stop and we had to change this.”
Apparently Klopp was concerned Coutinho had picked up an injury and that the risks of leaving him on outweighed whatever potential benefits there were. Which makes sense. Granted, the optics were going to be somewhat awkward no matter what Klopp said. But it’s a plausible enough explanation when taken at face-value.