Monday 18 December 2017

Klopp heaps praise on Allen as lesser lights seize their chance

Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp. Photo: Reuters
Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp. Photo: Reuters

Chris Bascombe

Liverpool manager Jürgen Klopp said changes in personnel are no longer compromising quality after he rested players for Thursday's Europa League return leg against Borussia Dortmund.

Despite seven changes to his starting line-up, including leaving out Philippe Coutinho, Liverpool were comfortable winners over Stoke at Anfield. Their four goals make them the Premier League's highest scorers since the turn of the year, quite a transformation given their toils up front at the start of the season.

The luxury of changing the side often was not available to Klopp earlier this season, but, as players adapt to his methods and find form, the alterations had the desired impact.

"When I came here six months ago, I was always asked about players who are not available," he said. "We had not enough players so I had to think about how I could change the line-up, change the system, change nearly everything.

"Today we played without Philippe Coutinho, who is in brilliant shape. We played without Adam Lallana until the end, who is in brilliant shape, so now we can show some consistency. We needed to be quick in the mind. That is what we said today when we changed the line-up. Fresh legs."

Divock Origi, who starred in Dortmund, did play the second half and scored twice. Klopp says the period the 20-year-old had out with a knee injury at the start of the year was put to good use.

"The last injury he used for body strength and now he might need another kit!" Klopp said. "You can see in him what confidence can do. When he came here it was difficult but he is a very young player and he is a very highly-rated striker. "

Klopp also reserved praise for Joe Allen, who was called up following the suspension of Emre Can and injury to Jordan Henderson.

He said: "Joe was brilliant. He only came off because we need him on Thursday. Joe is not at 100pc fitness because he could not train often enough but he is a really, really good player."

Both Sheyi Ojo and Kevin Stewart made their first league starts.

"I was really happy for them that we could give them the opportunity," said Klopp. "They deserved it. Kevin had two difficult moments because his first two passes didn't reach the target and you get nervous but he came back into the game. It was the same for Ojo."

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