Jamie Carragher has taken a positive slant on Liverpool’s FA Cup exit at the hands of Wolves, with the Premier League title race the clear priority.
The Reds suffered their second consecutive defeat as goals from Raul Jimenez and Ruben Neves downed a makeshift side that included teenagers Ki-Jana Hoever, Rafa Camacho and Curtis Jones.
Jones and Camacho were among nine players brought into the starting lineup, while Hoever replaced the injured Dejan Lovren after just six minutes at Molineux.
This meant that for the majority of the night James Milner was the only player included from the 2-1 loss to Man City last Thursday—a result which is certainly more impactful.
Klopp has placed significantly less emphasis on the FA Cup than any competition during his reign on Merseyside, with the timing of the third round—just after a traditionally busy festive schedule—the clear reason.
And while the manager was criticised from some quarters for a perceived lack of respect for the cup, Carragher made a good point in his assessment.
“I have no problem with the Liverpool selection from Jurgen Klopp,” he wrote on Twitter.
“Would rather we had won, but we have the best chance we’ve had in years of winning the Premier League and it may be years before we’re in this position again.
“The big chance we have is not the four-point lead, but Man City and Tottenham playing a lot more games.”
While Klopp did bring on Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah in the second half, and lost Lovren to an injury that he will be hoping won’t be too serious, he was largely able to rest his key names.
Alisson spent the weekend back in Rome, while Virgil van Dijk, Andy Robertson, Gini Wijnaldum and Sadio Mane were omitted from the squad and Jordan Henderson missed out as a precaution.
Trent Alexander-Arnold was an unused substitute, with his company in the form of academy duo Caoimhin Kelleher and Isaac Christie-Davies highlighting where Klopp’s priorities lie.
And rightly so, as Carragher points out, with Liverpool currently holding a convincing four-point lead over City, and six over Spurs, at the top of the Premier League.
Crucially, both of the Reds’ closest rivals enjoyed big wins in the third round, and now face clashes with Burnley and Crystal Palace respectively.
City and Spurs are also in the semi-finals of the League Cup, and while it may seem warped to spin their absence from both competitions into a positive, Liverpool’s schedule is much more streamlined.
The Reds now play just three more games in January, against Brighton (Jan 12), Palace (Jan 19) and Leicester (Jan 30), with that 11-day break between the last two fixtures one neither City or Spurs can boast.
Furthermore, next month there are nine free days between the home clashes with Bournemouth (Feb 9) and Bayern Munich (Feb 19), and it is likely Klopp will be planning at least one warm-weather training camp.
The difference in schedules between Liverpool (10 games), City (13) and Spurs (13) over January and February could be a key factor in determining the champions come May.