Jürgen Klopp was always going to rotate a few players against West Bromwich Albion with an eye on Liverpool’s Champions League semi-final against AS Roma. Alberto Moreno came into the team for Andy Robertson, Joe Gomez returned from injury to spell Trent Alexander-Arnold, Ragnar Klavan stood in for Dejan Lovren and Danny Ings marked his inclusion in the place of Roberto Firmino with his first goal for Liverpool since before his lengthy injury layoff.
Klopp revealed after the match that he was all too happy to give this handful of squad misfits a run-out, given the opposition, a view towards keeping fringe players fresh and making sure the team’s heavy hitters are all sharp and rested for Tuesday night.
“It was not that difficult, to be honest,” said Klopp of selecting his team at The Hawthorns.
“It was clear in the moment when we could make these changes. We couldn’t do them in the past.
“We had Trent and Joe through the whole season, then Trent and Clyney. Unfortunately, Clyney was a little bit injured again.
“It was clear that at one point Robbo cannot play all the games. Alberto would have played at Everton for sure but was then unfortunately a little bit injured.
“Ragnar was out for a while. And Ingsy came on from time to time, started at Everton in another position.
“It was always clear that in the moment if we could use them because of the physical situation we would do it. That’s what we did.”
Like most managers, Klopp hasn’t had a full compliment of players available to him this season and while it’s not great to look at the West Brom match and wish that Liverpool had taken the Baggies on with a fully-destructive first eleven, the hope and the plan is that a fully-destructive first eleven should be ready to face off with, and fully destruct, Roma in the first leg of the semi-final at Anfield.
I’m sure all the usual suspects will be back on the pitch together against Roma, doing all our favorite things. The draw against West Brom won’t damage the confidence in the Liverpool dressing room. Champions League is the priority now for Jürgen Klopp and the B-squad defensive line used at The Hawthorns is proof of that and proof that Liverpool intend to be at full strength on Tuesday in front of an electric home crowd.