Okay, so taking a total hiatus from writing about Liverpool isn’t so easy when the big games come thick and fast (although I’m still on a kind of sabbatical for the rest of 2020, if possible – limiting myself to shorter articles, submitted remotely, with none of my usual frequent on-site interactions and with a total social media lockdown; plus, for now I’m referring to myself in the third person, which is clearly an early sign of madness).
Indeed, the games are coming so thick and fast that Jürgen Klopp took off the entire forward line in Amsterdam with 30 minutes to go.
In a season where the Reds had conceded a crazy number of goals even with Virgil van Dijk in the XI, the weakened XI saw others up their game to bring a rare clean sheet.
Though weakened on paper, we saw the imperious Fabinho, a more dominant Joe Gomez and even a late debut for Rhys Williams, plus the not-too-commanding and recently ropey Adrián between the sticks. (Though a bit flappy at times, Adrián did make one excellent save at a vital time, and a couple of good ones, and whose only real mistake was one delayed clearance.)
Indeed, with Covid and injuries, the large midfield roster was still pushed to the limits; the Milnertron 3000 almost playing a full game, having run almost a kilometre more than anyone else on the pitch. (He had cramp after 87 minutes, then got smashed in the head on 88 minutes by a heavyweight shoulder. Only Klopp could get him off the pitch, it seemed.)
It’s a season where Liverpool may have to use the midweek European subs rule to rest players, as there is an entire calendar of football squeezed into two fewer months, with the frankly absurd situation where van Dijk (and Gini Wijnaldum) were recklessly forced to play 90 minutes three times for Holland in a week, which can’t have helped keep Klopp’s defensive leader out of the red zone (not that it caused the ACL rupture – that was a flying lunatic – but it probably didn’t help the elasticity of the ligament, from my very limited and possibly dangerous medical knowledge).
Club fans fund football; international managers try to wreck players, it seems. Frank de Boer took the complete piss by playing them in all three, even the friendly.
And so, with all this in mind, Klopp protecting the players may be more important than protecting the points, although both would be nice.
It was also fitting that the winning goal came from a throw-in, in what is literally the Group Of Thomas Grønnemark.
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