Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp speaks to Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain during the Premier League match at Anfield, Liverpool. Picture date: Saturday October 30, 2021. - Image ID: 2H3W78X

‘I have decisions to make!’ – Klopp on midfield selections and management

In a welcome change of pace, Jurgen Klopp has decisions that need to be made for his starting XI against Southampton following the return to fitness of a number of his regulars.

The Reds play their third game in the space of a week on Saturday but Southampton‘s visit precedes a run of a further nine to close out 2021.

It leaves Klopp and his staff with plenty to balance but the welcome news is that his options have been boosted, giving him a rare luxury of choice for the Anfield meeting.

“It’s much better because 10 days ago we had pretty much two-and-a-half midfielder and now that looks different,” Klopp said.

“We could use the Porto game to give some some minutes and some some rest. For the first time in a while, I have to make some decisions, which is actually cool!

“That’s just one game and then the rest is coming up,” he said with a wry laugh. “For the moment, it’s better than it was two weeks ago. Definitely.”

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Wednesday, November 24, 2021: Liverpool's manager Jürgen Klopp embraces goal-scorer Thiago Alcantara as he is substituted during the UEFA Champions League Group B Matchday 5 game between Liverpool FC and FC Porto at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The manager will know the situation can soon flip on its head, making game management all-important as Liverpool close out the year still competing in three different competitions.

Thiago and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain were specific name-checks from Klopp due to their recent fitness records after two successive starts since the break, but it goes across the board.

It means more changes are in the reckoning for when the Saints descend on Anfield.

“When our midfielders are fit that’s an incredible choice of players and Thiago has a very specific skillset and it’s very helpful when he is on the pitch and has rhythm,” Klopp explained.

“That’s the challenge we face, give him rhythm but not overdo it and that’s with all the players pretty much, especially with all the games coming up.

“That’s why we took them off again [vs. Porto], not give the chance to get too tired in a game where the injuries might then happen.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Tuesday, September 14, 2021: Liverpool's Thiago Alcantara (L) and Fabio Henrique Tavares 'Fabinho' during a training session at the AXA Training Centre ahead of the UEFA Champions League Group B Matchday 1 game between Liverpool FC and AC Milan. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

“We have a similar thing to do with Ox after a long period he now played a lot of games, we have to think about the same stuff. Others then come back from injury.

Fabinho, for example, came back from Brazil with a really bad stomach so played the full game [vs. Arsenal] but then thought we should not stress it and left him out [vs. Porto] – played only 25 minutes.

“Hendo and Robbo came back injured from the national team so that’s how you have to get through these games.

“The Wednesday-Saturday is always a time where we have to really think about how can we change.

“Saturday-Wednesday is completely different, it’s a day more, that’s what you need. But Wednesday-Saturday after all the games we’ve played we need to really think about.”