Liverpool headed into the November international break in fine form. Having won five of their past six games, they went clear at the top of the league for the first time this season by beating Watford by a 6-1 margin while title rivals Manchester City could only manage a 1-1 draw with Middlesborough.
In that moment, no Liverpool fan wanted a break from club football, and for many there was a concern that time away from the club for many of its stars would hurt their momentum. For Jürgen Klopp, though, momentum isn’t something to be overly concerned about—international break or no.
“The momentum is not something you have to talk about before the game so I don’t think about it,” said the Liverpool manager at his pre-match press conference. “It’s the same situation for all other teams. I only try to describe ours because you ask about difficulties ahead of this game, but it’s for all the teams the same.
“For Southampton, [Jose] Fonte played for Portugal. They have a lot of players who were on the road so it’s no advantage, no disadvantage, it’s like it is. After international breaks it’s a special situation. Usually you have the players here, you can see how they feel, but even then they can get injuries in training.”
Liverpool might have had more natural momentum had they played Southampton last weekend instead of having most of their starters scattered around the globe, but it’s a universal problem for the top-half clubs in every major league in Europe and so, for Klopp, not worth much consideration.
The more important thing getting his players back in good health. And on that front, the news hasn’t been quite as good. First came Adam Lallana’s groin strain against Spain, which is likely to will likely keep him out on Saturday—but that at least isn’t expected to keep him out longer than that.
Then, despite the fact that Philippe Coutinho appeared to get through 170 minutes in Brazil’s World Cup qualifiers unscathed, on the player’s return to Liverpool he had to head to Spire hospital to undergo scans, casting his fitness into doubt for Saturday and likely leaving Klopp without two key stars.
“It’s not possible to watch Brazil games live at 1:30 in the morning or whatever,” Klopp added when asked about trying to track players all over the world. “When you wake up, the first thing you look to see if somebody wrote you anything, and when there’s no message, that’s the first good sign.”
Unfortunately, as Klopp and Liverpool fans learned this week, that there is a first good sign doesn’t always mean that everything’s cool.