Yesterday’s 3-3 draw with Brentford featured numerous head-scratching moments for a Liverpool side that had the chance to go three points clear of Manchester City at the top of the Premier League table. There were missed chances at one end, defensive lapses at the other, and a substitution that left many confused.
Curtis Jones got the start in midfield thanks to several injuries, and he clearly wanted to take full advantage of the opportunity. He had a large influence on the game that culminated in a cracking goal to give Liverpool the lead in the 67th minute.
Then, he was immediately substituted for Roberto Firmino.
Now, it was clear that the substitution was planned before Jones put Liverpool ahead and manager Jürgen Klopp chose to stick with his plan, but it still raised questions about the logic behind going through with the substitution after the goal. Unsurprisingly, these questions were raised in Klopp’s post-match press conference.
“Obviously when we decided to make the change it was 2-2, but the reason for it was the way they played, we didn’t really need a third midfielder because they only played long balls,” said Klopp.
“So, we needed a clear structure around the centre-halves players who pick the ball up. When we did that, it made really sense that we had one more player between the line – changing our structure to give them another thing to think about.”
So, the idea was to create more attacking opportunities since the midfield was being bypassed anyway. In that context, leaving on Fabinho and Jordan Henderson, who are both more defensively minded than Jones and are better suited to providing cover for the back four, makes sense.
And Klopp believed that, despite Brentford’s equalizer, the change worked. Liverpool had chances to extend the lead before Brentford scored their third, and had chances to get a winner after losing the lead.
“I actually think that worked really well. We didn’t score from these situations, but Bobby had a few really, really good situations passing-wise, keeping the ball all the time and stuff. We had massive chances – we had even in the last second a big one. Yeah, that was the reason. We thought we should score more goals to get the result we wanted.”