Without Europe, Liverpool and the club’s fans have gotten used to a slightly slower pace to the 2016-17 season, but the busy holiday run continues into January with a quick turnaround before the first leg of their EFL Cup tie against Southampton.
“We are used to it,” Klopp told reporters gathered for his pre-match press conference less than 24 hours after his club drew Plymouth Argyle in their FA Cup Third Round tie, forcing a replay in that competition. “We have one more game now. That was not the plan but it’s not the biggest difference.”
Though some are bothered by the idea of having to play the extra game, it’s almost certainly going to end up another chance to play the youth and fringe players as Klopp did on Sunday. The priority, now that they’re in the semis, is on the EFL Cup.
After the league, of course, it’s now the competition that matters most, with Liverpool two games away from the final and a chance at some early silverware they could use to boost themselves heading into the final stretch. And it likely means a strong lineup on Wednesday.
“I think Phil [Coutinho] is fit enough to be a big part of the squad,” Klopp noted, and while a start might be too much to ask for from the returning star, a role coming off the bench at least is expected. “It’s been seven weeks. He needs minutes in training; he needs minutes in games.”
Loris Karius is also likely to get a second start as Liverpool play back to back cup ties. Beyond Karius, though, the focus will be on the strongest possible lineup rather than on rotation and giving youth a chance. If there are any youth involved, it will be on the bench.
“Wednesday, it will be the best team we can play,” the Liverpool manager added. “That’s how it is.”