Jurgen Klopp opted to start a midfield trio which is seldom seen in fixtures of the magnitude Chelsea posed on Sunday, with Fabinho, Naby Keita and Jordan Henderson selected from the outset.
Liverpool’s boss has often been conservative with his midfield selections in big games this season, but he opted for a fresh approach yesterday by leaving engine-room Wijnaldum on the substitutes bench.
Summer signings Keita and Fabinho started alongside a more advanced Henderson and it’s fair to say the decision paid dividends for the hosts.
The Liverpool captain thrived in his new-look role, powering forward at every opportunity before eventually providing a moment of ingenuity to give Sadio Mane a gaping goal to head into shortly after half-time.
It was a show of faith from Klopp to start Keita – a player who has not been totally convincing this season – and Henderson in a role which has typically been reserved for Wijnaldum this season, but it was ultimately one which enabled his side to win the midfield battle.
The Guinea international may not have provided a sucker punch akin to Henderson’s cross for the opening goal but his display hinted that he is beginning to full get to grips with the demands of the Premier League.
After a perfectly balanced midfield performance, it now seems Klopp will be faced with a major selection headache in the coming weeks, potentially forcing him to snub Wijnaldum to free up Henderson as an attacking outlet in the final-third.
Klopp’s decision to tweak his captain’s position has already seen him score one goal and provide two assists in his last two league outings and the success he has enjoyed suggests the £36 million rated man, per Transfermarkt, could have a major problem in his endeavour to win his place back.
This is, of course, a nice problem for Klopp to have. With Liverpool hoping to clinch glory in both the Premier League and the Champions League it is vital that he can rely on every member of his squad.
Keita and Henderson both vindicated their manager’s pre-match selection on Sunday; now Wijnaldum is no longer an undisputed first choice option.