Liverpool took all three points when they hosted West Ham United at Anfield last night, but Jurgen Klopp gave some insight on his substitution choices following the victory that will ring alarm bells for supporters.
Speaking on Amazon Prime (via The Rousing Kop) following the 1-0 win, the Liverpool manager detailed injury concerns that led to Thiago Alcantara and Darwin Nunez’s return to the bench in the second half.
Klopp revealed: “Thiago stretched once on the pitch which for me is a warning sign.
“Meanwhile, we pretty much have to react to everything. So it was clear we had to change him.
“With Darwin [Nunez] at half-time, everyone was saying ‘no, it’s fine, it’s fine!’. But when someone is [spending] five minutes on a bed they’re a concern as well. So again, a precaution.”
The manager went on to claim that the pair should be fine for the clash with Nottingham Forest this weekend: “They’re all okay, all okay. I think we picked them all at the right moment.”
Klopp cannot control the mounting fixtures Liverpool face ahead of the Qatar World Cup next month, however, the early substitutions of key players like Nunez and Thiago will be a huge warning sign for the German coach.
Over the next three weeks leading up to the international tournament, the Reds have another seven fixtures to see out including a Champions League group game against Ajax and an EFL third-round clash with Derby County.
As a result, squad rotation has never been more crucial ahead of the break considering Liverpool have already experienced huge problems with fitness and injury problems this term.
Diogo Jota, Arthur Melo, Joel Matip, Luis Diaz, Ibrahima Konate and Naby Keita all remain sidelined, reducing Klopp’s ability to rotate his team and match the quality that exists in his fit starting XI at present.
It’s not all bad news for the Merseyside giants, though, as Curtis Jones and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain made their return to the bench, with Jones making his first appearance of the season in the 57th minute against the Hammers.
Oxlade-Chamberlain’s experience will be a huge boost to the team in the fixtures ahead too should Klopp feel that he is ready to return to action, and that will give the manager the opportunity to rest some of those key players in the centre of the pitch, like Thiago.
With that being said, it will be a relief for supporters that both Nunez and Thiago were caught just in time and should be available for the early kick-off against Forest on Saturday afternoon. However, in the words of Klopp, it is undoubtedly a ‘warning sign’ that the club need to be incredibly careful about how they manage their players in the coming weeks. They have already suffered far too many worries in 2022/23.