Liverpool’s balancing act is more challenging than most clubs.
Injuries, runs of form and matchups are things that each manager deals with. Jurgen Klopp is no different. Only his Liverpool side are well in the running for a quadruple. The true test comes from how Jurgen Klopp balances his side with three trophies to play for over the the Reds’ final four games.
On one hand, it is all systems go for Liverpool. Klopp will not rest players with major trophies at stake. The FA Cup Final and the UEFA Champions League Final are one-off games against familiar opponents separated by two weeks. The intensity and potential is enough to make any player want to play in those games. Jurgen Klopp is at a point where he must play his best players each game.
That being said, he did not start Mohamed Salah, Jordan Henderson or Thiago against Aston Villa. Tied at half time, the German made changes to ensure all three invaluable points at this stage in the Premier League.
The Premier League is the quintessential component of the potential quadruple. Even if the Premier League falls short, which is looking likely with two EPL games remaining, Liverpool still has the chance at a treble of cup competitions.
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Jurgen Klopp does not feel sorry for the wear and tear on his players at this stage of the season. After all, it is Liverpool’s success that put the strain on the side so late in the season.
Self-inflicted, but welcome, damage
The Premier League started way back in the middle of August. Thirty-six games later, Liverpool is in contention for the Premier League.
The first FA Cup game for Liverpool started at the turn of the year against Shrewsbury Town. That competition consisted of five games thus far with the sixth game coming on Saturday against Chelsea. The EFL Cup, which Liverpool won for the ninth time in its history, played out over six games, with five coming against Premier League opposition.
Finally, the UEFA Champions League Final on May 28 against Real Madrid is the 13th game in that competition.
In total, Liverpool played 59 games to get to their current standing. Minus the potential for FA Cup replays, it is the highest number of games possible for Liverpool at the beginning of the season.
Being in contention is something to be celebrated, and it is a welcome problem for Jurgen Klopp. Ahead of Liverpool’s second-leg tie against Benfica in the Champions League, Liverpool was in a stretch of two games against Manchester City, a game against Manchester United and the first leg against Benfica.
Klopp commented on how while the fixture schedule is tight, this is the position he wants his Reds to be in.
“You need to put in your mind that you have enough energy to deal with every challenge. We want to be in every match.”
Well, Liverpool is in every match and every competition until the end. Now, it just comes down to divvying up the squad and making sure each game produces the best out of the team.
Liverpool’s balancing act
The one major consideration when jamming a load of significant fixtures into a short span of time is injuries. In an ideal world, where injuries are non-existent and managers have free roam, picking a lineup is far easier.
However, Jurgen Klopp must make conscious decisions to play one lineup in one game and make changes for the next. Consequently, injuries play a role in those decisions.
Fabinho, the defensive midfielder who played a key role for Liverpool throughout the season, picked up an injury early on against Aston Villa on Tuesday, May 10. Jordan Henderson is a strong replacement, but one that forced Jurgen Klopp’s hand at an untimely moment.
For a silver lining, Liverpool went on to win the game. Moreover, Fabinho’s injury ended up not being anything serious. In fact, he should be set to play in the FA Cup Final come Saturday, May 14.
Fabinho’s scare does represent an overarching threat for Liverpool. Say Mohamed Salah, Virgil Van Dijk, Alisson, or one of those two elite full backs picks up an injury. At this stage of the season, Liverpool’s balancing act would unravel with one of those stalwarts missing even one game.
Liverpool has played without its stars before, but not in a series of pressure-packed games like the next two weeks forebodes.
Jurgen Klopp will not give up on the Premier League until he is mathematically eliminated from contention. Therefore, he will play his best possible XI in each Premier League game.
Plus, he will not shy away from the possibility of Liverpool’s first FA Cup win since 2006. It will not be an easy task, with Chelsea looking to avoid a third-consecutive FA Cup Final loss.
Of the remaining competitions, based on chances and prestige, Liverpool’s most important event is the Champions League Final against Real Madrid. Liverpool’s record of success in the Champions League stands out amongst its English rivals. Plus, it guarantees a spot at what could be the FIFA Club World Cup, although we still do not know when or if that is happening with the FIFA World Cup in an odd time for this cycle.
Liverpool’s remaining four games could spell out a quadruple. Or, this masterful team, one of the best in the illustrious history of Liverpool FC, could walk away from the season with nothing more than the League Cup.
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