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The players racking up most minutes after 10 games in 32 days – and 6 in 19 still ahead

As usual, the winter fixture list has been massively demanding on Liverpool with matches across three competitions – and it won’t get easier across the new year run.

Jurgen Klopp has been forced not just to juggle form and tactical considerations in his team, but also a spate of midfield injuries and the now-omnipresent threat of absence through Covid.

Since the last international break Liverpool have played 10 matches, with those taking place across just 32 days up to and including the League Cup penalty shoot-out win over Leicester.

Eight were won, followed by the draw with Spurs – then our spot-kick success last time out.

Our Boxing Day encounter with Leeds was called off, but the matches still come thick and fast from now into 2022, with the Reds playing six more matches in just 19 days including an FA Cup third round and the two legs of the League Cup semis.

It all means game time and the load on players is more important than at any stage of the season so far – particularly if we want to keep our silverware ambitions alive in the Premier League and beyond.

The clocking of minutes on the pitch for every player in the squad since the November international break may give clues where Klopp will look next for his forthcoming line-ups, and who might soon be in need of a break.

The players below are listed in order of chronological appearance since the win over Arsenal, starting with the line-up from that team. As such, it presents an element of context: Roberto Firmino (138 mins) only recently returned from injury, while our most recent outing was the only one of the 10 that Alisson (810) played no part in.

Enforced rotation has undoubtedly played a part here, with Virgil van Dijk (450 mins) a notable omission in the group to have played more than 50% of available minutes.

While it was an annoyance to be without him, it should mean our No4 is primed for a run of games if required, with the likes of Leicester, Chelsea and Arsenal all ahead.

Next to him, Kostas Tsimikas (330) has also not played too much – so the left side of defence should be fresh, given Andy Robertson‘s (555) suspension.

More concern comes in attack, where Sadio Mane (752) and Mohamed Salah (746) have played more than any other outfield players, but given both only have two more fixtures they’re available for before they leave for AFCON duty, it’s likely that Klopp will continue to eke every ounce out of them possible for now.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, December 11, 2021: Liverpool's Fabio Henrique Tavares 'Fabinho' (L)] and Thiago Alcantara during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Aston Villa FC at Anfield. Liverpool won 1-0. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Midfield changes have been commonplace over the last month, with the FabinhoThiago pairing initially looking superb, alongside a rotated third, before both tested positive for Covid and subsequently came out of the team.

The upshot of it is that no central option has played more than 60% of minutes over the last month or so, which could prove beneficial in the long run considering we came through the run undefeated.

As for those who could be set for a revitalising run in the team, look no further than Oxlade-Chamberlain (514) and Bobby Firmino.

They have both had spells this term where they have impressed significantly, and both have the attacking skills to make a real difference when Salah, Mane and Keita head to Cameroon early in the new year.

Diogo Jota (584) keeping form and fitness is a must, of course, while either one of Takumi Minamino (298) or the mysteriously absent Divock Origi (121) may get the chance to boost their season time on the pitch by a serious amount.

Klopp has largely performed wonders with his juggling acts so far, but there are even more challenges ahead in this next part of the season.

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