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Jurgen Klopp's in-game decisions highlight major Liverpool question ahead of January


Liverpool were out of sight by half-time of their game against Southampton, but questions remain over the manager’s use of his fringe attackers after his latest substitutions

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Jurgen Klopp post Southampton press conference

With an hour played in Liverpool’s Premier League match against Southampton, the Reds were four goals to the good and cruising.

Diogo Jota had struck twice, before further goals from Thiago Alcantara and Virgil van Dijk confirmed victory for Jurgen Klopp’s team with time to spare.

With a busy schedule up ahead, the manager might have viewed the situation as an opportunity to rest some of his attacking players and keep them fresh and hungry for Wednesday’s Merseyside Derby and beyond.

Instead, though, the manager prompted further questions about the capabilities of his backup forwards by giving Takumi Minamino a mere 10 minutes and leaving Divock Origi on the bench throughout.

Should Jurgen Klopp rotate his front three against Everton? Have your say in the comments section







Minamino replaced Jota for the final 10 minutes against Southampton
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The substitutions Klopp did opt for were not without merit.

Thiago has only recently returned from injury, so it makes sense to ease him back into the fold, particularly given the time he spent on the sidelines last season.

There was also some logic behind choosing this game to welcome James Milner back to Premier League football, with the veteran having gone a full month since his last league outing.

However, with the Africa Cup of Nations looming large, and Klopp confirming the club are “still talking” about the prospect of keeping Salah and Mane for the game against Chelsea on January 2, could the decision to limit the minutes of Minamino and Origi come back to bite the manager?

It’s easy to have sympathy with Klopp: his team is challenging for a title, and he knows he will be without two of his most important players when Salah and Mane head off to Cameroon for what could be a number of weeks if their countries make it all the way to the final.

The pair have contributed 18 goals between them – fewer than half of the teams in the Premier League have that many – and Klopp will be desperate to get the most out of his forwards with uncertainty over how easy it will be for them to hit the ground running after AFCON.

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The issue, however, is one of ‘if not now then when?’

Minamino has played around 40 Premier League minutes this season. Origi is on roughly half of that. Can we expect either of them to come straight in and deliver the performances Liverpool need, even if they are relatively fresh?

Yes, the Reds can expect to welcome back Roberto Firmino at some point in December, with Klopp confirming the player is “getting closer” to a recovery from the thigh problem sustained against Atletico Madrid earlier in the month, but one would imagine one of Minamino and Origi will need to be called upon in the new year.







Origi and Minamino have played less than 90 league minutes between them this season
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Klopp may point to the fact that, in recent weeks, Origi and Minamino have both been able to make instant impacts from the bench.

The Belgian gave Liverpool hope in their defeat to West Ham, while Japan forward Minamino took just a minute to find the back of the net against Arsenal.

Liverpool’s manager can also draw upon his use of Xherdan Shaqiri in the 2019-20 season, when the former Bayern Munich man was handed his first league start of the season in a December clash with Everton and delivered with two goals.

Similarly, both Shaqiri and Origi came into the starting line-up for the Reds’ famous Champions League victory over Barcelona a few months earlier, both repaying Klopp’s trust with the part they played in that 4-0 win.

However, there’s a difference between delivering in a one-off game and contributing to the team for a run of matches, which is what the Reds boss will need from his fringe players in January.







Klopp brought on two midfielders against Southampton before changing anything in attack
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The coming weeks could tell us a lot about what Klopp wants to do in January when Salah and Mane – along with Naby Keita – face time away with their national sides.

There is always the option of dipping into the transfer market, as was the case when Minamino signed from Red Bull Salzburg in January 2020, though it’s not always the easiest time to find value.

Klopp has a chance between now and Boxing Day to show his fringe attackers he trusts them to deliver, not just at 4-0 but from the start, and against any opponent.

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