Looking forward to Saturday’s big clash against Chelsea, Jurgen Klopp today received great news on the injury front: star right back, Trent Alexander Arnold, and midfield engine Georginio Wijnaldum will both be available for selection. With lots of rotation happening over the last few weeks as Liverpool try to navigate a congested fixture list that, at the close of the weekend, will have seen Liverpool square off against Tottenham, Paris St. Germain, Chelsea twice, and Southampton in three weeks across three different competitions (Premier League, Champions League, and Carabao Cup), and with a Champions League tie against Napoli and a league fixture against Manchester City to round out next week, it was inevitable that we would see more squad changes.
With the midweek team selection omitting Alexander Arnold and Wijnaldum, there were concerns about fitness headed into this Saturday’s crucial league match. The biggest of those concerns is Virgil Van Dijk who, unfortunately, still remains a mystery. Thankfully, though, Klopp will have his other two stars fit and ready for selection.
Which isn’t to say that he wasn’t pleased with the jobs turned in by the squad midweek. Speaking on that, Klopp had this to say:
Joel Matip, two games in a row, played fantastic. Both full-backs [Alberto Moreno and Nathaniel Clyne] didn’t play in the season so far, so we all get judged constantly but for the boys it’s much more important what I think about their performance than what you think about their performance. I can imagine people say ‘thank God all the others come back’, but these boys did a really good job. So, if Virgil is fit and can play then he will play, but if not then obviously we have options and that’s really good.
A sigh of relief for most Reds that TAA and Wijnaldum are available with both asserting themselves as integral cogs to this year’s squad and among the first names expected on Klopp’s match day sheet. Still, it’s refreshing that Klopp has such confidence in the players on hand that even without these two, he believes the quality of the club is such to be enough to test any squad on any given day.
Not to harp too often on this, but that quality of depth has been so rare in my time as a fan that it is taking some getting used to. How often in the past have we had a major member of the squad come up with a slight muscle twinge or get pulled in training and spend the build up to a match incredibly anxious over their health? And while there will necessarily be some hand wringing over Van Dijk, I feel Klopp’s confidence in the rest of the squad is well-earned: there is quality in the depth on hand and, more importantly, it seems most of the people involved are very pleased with how the minutes are being handled at the moment.
We are witnessing in real time the work of a master builder in Jurgen Klopp. The craft of football management and tactical deployment. The art of coaching. Come Saturday, I expect the maestro to strike up a symphony the likes of which hasn’t been heard at Stamford Bridge. Come on you Reds!