By James Miller – @JimmyMiller2608
As defending European champions, Liverpool are almost guaranteed to be judged on performances across all competitions. However, with a mount up in high-level fixtures, could Jürgen Klopp revert to youth?
Last season the Reds participated in four competitions including the Premier League, Champions League, Carabao Cup and FA Cup, with their progress in each competition mixed respectively.
A tricky encounter against Chelsea – then manager by Maurizio Sarri – proved to be the first and final game in the Carabao Cup as the Reds bowed out in just the third round.
The game played at Anfield, saw the inclusion of several second string players, while all regularly involved with the first-team setup.
Already three games into what promises to be a physically-demanding 2019/20 season, the clear intent to rotate legs has already been made evident. In addition, the departure of first-team stars Daniel Sturridge and Alberto Moreno, may increase the chances of academy products getting minutes in competitions like the Carabao Cup.
Off the back of conquering Europe once again, the Merseysiders will now also have the added pressure of juggling their inclusion into the FIFA Club World Cup. Should the Reds be fortunate enough to reach the quarter-finals of the Carabao Cup, it could confirm a busy schedule, potentially leading to 10 games in just 29 days.
The FIFA Club World Cup, will be held in Qatar. Klopp’s side will participate in two games on December 18th and 21st.
When it comes to squad rotation, a manager must surely factor in several elements, one of which will be fatigue and, while involvement in such competitions can only signal progression, a round-the-world trip at such a key stage of the season is not ideal.
At present, Klopp is backed with stacks of quality and not just at senior level. In recent years, the U23’s under the management of Neil Critchley have produced some impressive players. A lot of whom have been sent elsewhere in order to develop, although some have remained involved with the first-team setup.
One player who may well get his chance could be youngster Curtis Jones. The attacking midfielder has been continuously impressive, knocking on the door of a first team place. It may well be that the added fixtures this season sees Jones provided with an opportunity.
As well as Jones, one player who is heavily touted to be involved at some stage this season is teenager striker Rhian Brewster. Openly admired by Klopp, Brewster may be called up on to allow Roberto Firmino recovery time.
In regard to the FA Cup, Champions League glory may have papered over a poor run which was ended by Wolves. A poor performance at Molineux saw a young and inexperienced side put to the sword by the Midlanders in the Third Round.
Liverpool right now deserve all of the praise and credit that they receive, and are rightly ranked amongst some of the best sides in Europe. However, there does seem to be a tendency to switch off in games. In order for this side to establish themselves as one of the best to have been, a ruthlessness must be developed from the core of the Klopp.
There is a balance that must be found. Klopp may well require his full squad this season in order to compete on all fronts. New recruits Harvey Elliott and Sepp van den Berg have potential to get a taste of competitive action. Should the Reds be drawn against favourable opposition in either the Carabao Cup or FA Cup, he may ponder the inclusion of youth to allow well-earned rest for some of the Reds stars.