As it turns out, Jurgen Klopp’s greatest fear is once again becoming forced to field a centre-back pairing of Jordan Henderson and Fabinho. And who can blame him? Last season’s injury crisis is one to leave anyone scarred, even those with the bravest of souls such as Klopp. It acted as the biggest lesson learnt the hard way for those at Liverpool; a lesson they have taken notes from when considering this campaign so far.
In 2019 and 2020, if Virgil van Dijk and Andy Robertson weren’t on the pitch, it meant that it was time for Carabao Cup football. One season of injury crisis later, however, and no chances are being taken. And rightly so. Klopp is utilising his squad, and those players benefitting as a result are only paying the manager back in the respectable currency of performance.
Liverpool Are Finally Reaping the Rewards for Squad Rotation
Kostas Tsimikas: Pushing Andy Robertson All the Way
As touched on before, Robertson became all too familiar with playing almost every single minute in a Champions League and Premier League season. Even when Kostas Tsimikas first arrived in 2020, injuries, a run in with Covid, and therefore a lack of sharpness meant that Robertson’s role did not change – leading to an eventual burnout.
When taking a look at the Liverpool squad, Robertson’s name stood out as one that needed a rest; his form began to dip; he looked a player that had played in the intensity of title races and Champions League wins without necessary rest. Because he did. When injury occurred in pre-season, it wasn’t surprising, but it was worrying. How would the unproven Tsimikas replace Mr Reliable Robertson? We soon got our answer to that question.
Tsimikas slotted seamlessly straight into Robertson’s role, adding his own attributes and leading to several shouts for a far more consistent first-team place. With eight clean sheets, eight wins and two assists in eight games, those shouts did not come out of nothing, either. In fact, the Greek international had a good case. But that’s when Robertson re-arrived with a battery once more charged and ready to go – registering three assists in his last two games against Southampton and Everton. The impact of how beneficial competitions for places can be has never been so clear.
Jordan Henderson and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain Also Pushing Each Other
It wasn’t so long ago that Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain was written off at Liverpool; seemingly destined for a move elsewhere. After all, in a squad of midfielders ranging from Thiago Alcantara, Fabinho, and Naby Keita, to Harvey Elliott, Curtis Jones and Jordan Henderson, just where would Oxlade-Chamberlain squeeze the satisfactory amount of minutes in? That’s where injuries come into play.
What seem like now inevitable knocks to Keita and Thiago gave Chamberlain a slither of hope; a slither he has since turned into much more having taken his opportunity. With Keita and Jones still out, it is the former Arsenal man pushing for Henderson’s place. And, just like in the battle between Tsimikas and Robertson, Henderson’s performances have gone up a level as a result.
The Liverpool captain ran the game at Goodison Park at times – scoring once and assisting once in a 4-1 victory.
Takumi Minamino and Divock Origi Are Fulfilling Their Roles to Perfection at Liverpool
In amongst the high-flying front three at Liverpool, who have become as inevitable as rain on a day of Barbecue party’s in England, it’s easy to forget Takumi Minamino and Divock Origi. So how about a reminder? Both players are quietly having seasons to take note of at Anfield. Of course, they haven’t had the best opponents always in front of them, but they can only perform against what they’re up against. And perform is exactly what they’ve done.
So far this season, Minamino has scored four goals in 343 minutes of action – the equivalent of just over three games. Meanwhile, Origi has scored five goals in 291 minutes – the equivalent of, again, just over three games. The biggest compliment that you can pay both is that the uproar would not be loud if both forwards started against Wolves on Saturday; they have more than earned a Premier League start, and they would have been rewarded with one if it wasn’t for the blistering form of Diogo Jota, Sadio Mane, and Mohamed Salah.
Squad Players’ Form: The Key to Silverware
Dotted around the Liverpool squad may not be players as recognisably class as the Hakim Ziyech’s and Christian Pulisic’s of Chelsea, or the Ferran Torres and Raheem Sterling’s of Manchester City. But, it is players playing at a similar level of commitment, desire, and form. Ziyech, for example, has been involved in just one more goal than Origi this season having played 514 more minutes.
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