Jurgen Klopp will likely make wholescale changes when the Merseyside derby rolls around this weekend. Following our Champions League win over Manchester City, the manager will be keeping one eye on the second leg when it comes to his team selection at 11:30 am on Saturday.
This will be the first Merseyside derby in recent memory where there is almost nothing on the line, even bragging rights aren’t to play for with Reds clearly the most dominant side in Liverpool and focused on Champions League glory. Meanwhile, Everton are coming off the back of a hammering from Manchester City with fans walking out before half-time in protest of Sam Allardyce’s reign as manager.
With so much separating the sides, the disconnect between the Blue and Red sides of the city makes the rivalry seem less bitter and the result less important. However, it’s still a game with so much heritage and history that it cannot be ignored, but rotation is a necessity given the high intensity of our last match. With the front three of Salah, Firmino and Mane constantly going hell for leather, it’s entirely possible they could all be rested on Saturday.
Mo Salah limped off against City due to a groin problem and hasn’t missed a Liverpool game since the 2-1 FA CUP win over Everton in January, however, his substitution was just precautionary. When asked if Salah’s injury may keep him out for for the second leg, Klopp said: “I hope not. He told me after that game, ‘all fine, all good’ I hope that’s the case but we have to wait and see”
When also asked if rotation of the whole squad was likely, Klopp answered bluntly “Yes. If we had all of our players available and we play against Everton without our best eleven, what happens then? That’s just the way it is.” Klopp’s frustration clearly stems from the Premier League’s scheduling of the fixture which has been placed as a mid-day kick off.
Klopp mentioned the magnitude of the Derby and how it has been placed in an unreasonable time in his post-match comments, saying: “We play on Saturday at 12:30 and if you want to see games like this, then Premier League have to think about this. Everton are more happy about the game than we are, that’s not fair.
“Being in an European competition should not cause you problems” Klopp said, “At the moment, we are trying to find players for Saturday and people are telling us it’s the most important game of the year. That’s quite difficult, I’m not really over the moon, I’m angry at the people that make decisions in this league”.
The likes of Danny Ings, Alberto Moreno, Nathaniel Clyne and Dom Solanke could all feature this Saturday – along with Jordan Henderson who is banned for the second leg at the Etihad. With injuries to Emre Can, Joel Matip and Joe Gomez also limiting the players available to Klopp’s disposal, it will more than likely be a second string side that face Everton this weekend. Klopp could also turn to academy prospects Curtis Jones, Conor Masterson and Camacho as a result.