Philippe Coutinho and Roberto Firmino’s omission from the starting XI for Liverpool’s visit to Stoke on Saturday afternoon had Reds fans baffled and led some to criticise Jurgen Klopp’s decision.
The German had decided to exclude two of the club’s most important assets, while youngsters Trent Alexander-Arnold and Ben Woodburn both made the starting line-up in another vital fixture in Liverpool’s bid to finish in the top four.
It was understandably baffling that while the Reds continue to edge closer to returning to the Champions League that Klopp would make such a bold move. But despite there clearly being an underlying problem, the fans weren’t having it.
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Liverpool were held to a 2-2 home draw with Bournemouth in their last game – allowing fifth-placed Arsenal to make up ground following their 3-0 home win over West Ham in midweek – so the Reds had no room for slipping up.
A result was vital. So when the teams were announced an hour before kick-off, Liverpool fans couldn’t believe what they were seeing when their Brazilian duo were left out – with one fan having accused Klopp of treating the game like a League Cup fixture.
As can be seen in the selection of tweets below, fans were certainly not content with their team’s line-up.
However, as the rest of the Reds’ fans would have been right to assume – there was indeed an underlying issue which Klopp has revealed was the reason for him leaving the Brazilian duo on the bench and instead switching his team up by selecting less experienced faces.
Klopp explains Brazilian duo’s omission
The Reds boss indicated the two players, despite the Premier League remaining the only competition his side are competing in this campaign, were suffering from fatigue ahead of the game.
“We knew we have problems today, but it’s not about moaning about the problems. We have to take the situation like it is,” said Klopp is his post-match press conference.
“Of course, everybody thought why we don’t bring the two Brazilians [Coutinho and Firmino] on from the beginning, but you saw the last 15 minutes again we’re low battery.”
But despite both players having not been deemed fit enough to last the full 90 minutes against Stoke, Coutinho and Firmino were on hand in the second half to inspire Liverpool to a comeback victory that keeps the Reds third in the league.
Brazilians inspire Reds comeback victory
Jonathan Walters’ late first-half strike gave the Potters the lead, before Coutinho’s 70th-minute equaliser was followed up by the winner from Firmino two minutes’ later.
The result opened up a nine-point gap over fifth-placed Arsenal who boast two games in hand, while City remaining two points behind, in fourth, with a game in hand over Klopp’s men.
But with Coutinho and Firmino continuing to inspire Liverpool in attack, it’s becoming increasingly hard to imagine the Merseysiders not returning to Europe’s elite club competition next campaign.