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Opinion

Jurgen Klopp massive dilemma ahead of Newcastle United

3 weeks ago
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Jurgen Klopp is now looking at the very real possibility of creating history.

Liverpool have already won the League Cup and are now contenders to also win the Premier League, Champions League and FA Cup.

If successful, this would be the ultimate historic quadruple.

However…competing for all of these competitions in the later stages creates its own problems (problems the rest of us would very much love to have!).

Jurgen Klopp was very very vocal (whingeing) about having to play away at Newcastle United only some 62 hours or so after their Champions League semi-final first leg had concluded at Anfield.

It was reported that at his insistence, Jurgen Klopp got Liverpool to demand the Newcastle match was moved back to help his players recover from that CL match, but his / their demands were knocked back. Attempting to do this was quite shameful, considering Klopp and Liverpool waited until only two weeks before the NUFC match was due to be played, any move on the kick-off at St James Park would have led to issues and money lost for thousands of both Newcastle and Liverpool fans who had already booked travel etc.

Anyway, on Wednesday night Liverpool eventually won 2-0, the two second-half goals giving the scousers an advantage heading into the second leg on Tuesday night in Spain. Liverpool dominated the match but Villarreal were missing some key players, including striker Moreno, who could be back for Tuesday night. Unai Emery’s side have already shown their resilience so many times this season, having beaten Bayern Munich and Juventus amongst others.

So whilst Liverpool will be overwhelming favourites, they can’t take Villarreal too lightly.

Ahead of Saturday this gives Jurgen Klopp a massive dilemma, both in terms of recovery time for his players only 62 hours after last night’s match, then having to ensure they finish their Champions League semi-final job on Tuesday night.

A balancing act…

Interesting then to look back at when Liverpool last played so quickly in the Premier League this season after a big Champions League match.

On Wednesday 16 February 2022, Liverpool travelled to play Inter Milan.

Jurgen Klopp playing pretty much his strongest available team (with the possible exception of Elliot), with a line-up of:

Alisson, Alexander-Arnold, Konate, Van Dijk, Robertson, Elliot, Fabinho, Thiago, Salah, Jota, Mane

On the following Saturday, Jurgen Klopp actually had an additional two and a half hours recovery time after their game at Inter, with a 3pm kick-off, though of course extra travel involved.

Anyway, when lining up against Norwich in the Premier League on Saturday 19 February 2022, Jurgen Klopp made seven out of ten outfield changes.

The move almost massively backfired, even against rock bottom Norwich, the Canaries taking the lead on 48 minutes through Rashica and only with the help of a double substitution on 62 minutes, did Liverpool pull it around with then two goals in the next five minutes and a late third to make the result safe.

This time, Jurgen Klopp is facing a Newcastle team at 12.30pm on Saturday who have won their last four Premier League games, conceding only one goal in their last six and a half hours of football. Eddie Howe’s team winning 10 of their last 14 PL matches, only losing three of their last 16, only conceding more than one goal in a game on a single occasion since 19 December 2021.

Eddie Howe of course also having the relative luxury of a full week’s preparation for Liverpool, after ironically having beat Norwich in their most recent game last Saturday.

Of course, whatever Liverpool team takes to the field on Saturday will be very good. However, I would love it, absolutely love it, if Jurgen Klopp feels obliged to rest seven or more of his ten outfield players that started last night against Villarreal.

For Eddie Howe and everybody else connected to Newcastle United, this is an absolutely free go, nothing to lose.

On the other hand, having  got himself and his team into such a strong position with enticing possibilities in all competitions, Jurgen Klopp has potentially everything to lose.

Liverpool are currently in a run of playing nine matches in a 28 day stretch (24 April t0 22 May), fifteen games in a 50 day stretch if you go back to 2 April and take it forward to 22 May.

Jurgen Klopp and his players could end this season with everything from the ultimate quadruple, down to ‘only’ the League Cup.

Newcastle United and their fans would just love it, if they end up being the ones to seriously impact on Klopp’s dreams.

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