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Villa rue “five-sub rule” as Jurgen Klopp ensures Liverpool “don’t take their foot off the gas”

Aston Villa manager Dean Smith and midfielder John McGinn were both frustrated with the five-substitution rule as Liverpool earned a 2-0 win from the bench on Sunday.

Villa were holding their own at Anfield, keeping the Reds at bay as Pepe Reina enjoyed a quiet afternoon, until Klopp made a triple substitution on the hour mark.

Jordan Henderson, Gini Wijnaldum and Roberto Firmino, who all came out of the side as the manager made three changes, were sent on for Fabinho, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Divock Origi, and the tide turned.

All three were involved in some capacity as Sadio Mane opened the scoring 11 minutes later, before Curtis Jones put the game to bed with his first Premier League goal late on.

Jones, along with Neco Williams, represented a different type of substitution from Klopp, but the focus for Smith as he spoke to Sky Sports was the ability to send on three first-choice starters in one fell swoop.

“People say ‘was it the best time to come to Anfield?’, but I think you saw Jurgen Klopp‘s teams don’t take their foot off the gas,” the 49-year-old said.

“I don’t thank him for putting the three subs on, it strengthened them!

“We were still in the game all the way through, but disappointed to concede the second goal because it wasn’t a 2-0.

“Unfortunately, they beat the full press with their quality and killed the game off.”

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, July 5, 2020: Liverpool’s Curtis Jones celebrates scoring the second goal during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Aston Villa FC at Anfield. The game was played behind closed doors due to the UK government’s social distancing laws during the Coronavirus COVID-19 Pandemic. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

McGinn spoke shortly after his manager, and echoed Smith’s sentiment with an element of disdain towards the temporary changes to the rulebook, as Villa were ultimately outgunned.

“We can’t thank the guy that has invented the five-sub rule,” he said.

“It does make the task [harder], you’re coming to the champions which is already an uphill task, but it does make that tougher.”

It was deemed a necessary change as football returned after a three-month break, but many lower down the table expressed their concern that it would significantly boost the stronger sides.

Klopp was able to make three changes with half an hour to play safe in the knowledge that, if injuries occurred late on, he would be able to alter things further.

He left the likes of Xherdan Shaqiri, Takumi Minamino and Harvey Elliott on the bench, which highlights the quality Liverpool have compared to Villa—Shaqiri, for example, would be a key man for Smith’s side.

But that is the virtue of building strength in depth, and though the title is already won, Klopp will be thankful he could make those changes to pick up another three points.

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