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Jurgen Klopp explains why Liverpool needed to rest Philippe Coutinho and Roberto Firmino

Jurgen Klopp stands by his decision to rest Philippe Coutinho and Roberto Firmino but accepts luck played a significant part in the 2-1 win at Stoke.

With Coutinho having lost three kilograms in three days through illness and Firmino fatigued Klopp insists he had no option but to leave them on the bench at the bet365 Stadium.

A switch to 3-5-2 only increased the instability and that was reflected in a wretched first half in which the Reds were lucky to go in trailing just to Jon Walters’ near-post header, the Everton fan’s seventh league goal against Liverpool.

“The first half was actually not as good as we thought we could be,” said Klopp.

“We made a change to the system but we couldn’t train it and that is what everyone could see—everyone did not feel comfortable in the system.

“Defending was not a problem but we didn’t defend like we normally do; we couldn’t go high pressure.

“We saw we couldn’t change the system in the second half, although we did a little bit offensively and created chances.”

STOKE-ON-TRENT, ENGLAND - Saturday, April 8, 2017: Liverpool's Roberto Firmino celebrates scoring the second goal against Stoke City with team-mates Philippe Coutinho Correia, Emre Can and Daniel Sturridge during the FA Premier League match at the Bet365 Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

A dire situation forced Klopp’s hand and at half-time he removed teenagers Ben Woodburn and Trent Alexander-Arnold who, through not fault of their own, got lost in the maelstrom.

On went the Brazil duo even though the manager had decided with the sports science team before kick-off both were only good for about 30 minutes’ worth of football.

The reaction was instantaneous and, following the introduction of their third attacking option in Daniel Sturridge—himself not ready for 45 minutes of action after injury—the match was turned on its head in 125 seconds as Coutinho’s penalty area strike was superseded by his compatriots wonder volley from 25 yards.

“You saw in the second half we were brilliant. Brilliant but for half-an-hour it was difficult,” said Klopp.

“It was not the plan to change twice at half-time. Offensive options were difficult because for Daniel [playing from] half-time is really long in an intense game like this.

“I thought a lot about it and no-one understands it but that was my decision.

“I thought we could have played much better than we did but it was clear bringing them on for half-an-hour made sense and they could decide the game.

“It was lucky for us because of the first half but it was deserved and we are completely happy and fine with this game.”

STOKE-ON-TRENT, ENGLAND - Saturday, April 8, 2017: Liverpool's Simon Mignolet thanks fans after the 3-1 win in the FA Premier League match against Stoke City at the Bet365 Stadium. (Pic by Laura Malkin/Propaganda)

Liverpool were indebted to Simon Mignolet for two close-range saves, the first from Charlie Adam with the score at 1-0 and the second a brilliant far-post effort to deny Saido Berahino and hold on to their lead.

“This reaction is what you need to be successful,” added Klopp.

“You can’t expect your goalkeeper to make saves like this each week but it was like scoring a goal.”

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