Jurgen Klopp will have mixed emotions despite Liverpool being handed Premier League boost - ednews.net

29 January,

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Jurgen Klopp will have mixed emotions despite Liverpool being handed Premier League boost

Liverpool have seven players featuring at this winter's World Cup but they're not featuring as much as some of the Reds' rivals

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As Jurgen Klopp watches the World Cup from home, he, like every Liverpool fan, will keep everything crossed that the Reds’ seven representatives get through the mid-season tournament in Qatar free of injury.
After all, Liverpool were stung by injury enough times during the first half of the campaign. Meanwhile, they have also faced the most intense of fixture lists in recent times, have fallen just short of an unprecedented quadruple last season and had to contend with the most congested of schedules, as well as brief summer breaks and pre-seasons, in truncated seasons in response to first the coronavirus pandemic and then the World Cup.
Subsequently, truth be told, the Reds could do with catching a break and being given time to regroup and refresh, especially after their inconsistent start to the season. As a result, it was seen as something of a blessing when only seven of their squad were called up by their countries for the World Cup.
In contrast, their rival ‘Big Six’ Premier League clubs are among the most represented in Qatar, with only Barcelona beating Man City’s total of 16 World Cup stars and Manchester United, Chelsea, Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal all waving off double-figures.
Now a week into the World Cup and every nation has played at least once. And Klopp has been handed a further boost with his players out in Qatar clocking up considerably less minutes than Liverpool’s Premier League rivals.
From the Reds’ seven players, just four played during the opening round of fixtures as Trent Alexander-Arnold, Jordan Henderson and Fabinho were all left as unused substitutes. And while the Liverpool captain would come on for a 21-minute substitute appearance in England’s second game with USA, this has been countered by Ibrahima Konate dropping to the bench for France’s own second match against Denmark.
In gameweek one, the Frenchman would complete 90 minutes, with Virgil van Dijk, Alisson Becker and Darwin Nunez all registering the same as they all started for the Netherlands, Brazil and Uruguay respectively. As a result, the Reds clocked up a combined total of 360 minutes, without taking into consideration the enhanced amount of stoppage-time we have seen at the end of each half in Qatar.
Premier League leaders’ Arsenal would see their players feature for 400 minutes during the opening round of fixtures as seven of their 10 players took the pitch but only four of them started.
Granit Xhaka, Matt Turner and Thomas Partey would all complete the full 90 minutes for Switzerland, USA and Ghana, while Bukayo Saka would score twice during his 71 minutes on the pitch in Eng;and's 6-2 win over Iran. Meanwhile, Takehiro Tomiyasu came on as a half-time substitute in Japan's shock win over Germany, while Gabriel Jesus and Gabriel Martinelli were both late substitutes for Brazil as they beat Serbia.
While Manchester United have 13 players at the World Cup, and 10 would feature in the first round of fixtures, only six started as they totalled a combined 593 minutes.
Luke Shaw and Harry Maguire both started for England against Iran, though the latter would be forced off with 20 minutes left to play, with Marcus Rashford introduced as a substitute moments later. Meanwhile, Christian Eriksen, Casemiro and Bruno Fernandes would complete the full 90 minutes for Denmark, Brazil and Portugal respectively, while Facundo Pellistri was replaced late on Uruguay's 0-0 draw with South Korea.
Lisandro Martinez would enjoy a 31-minute substitute appearance in Argentina's shock defeat to Saudi Arabia, while Fred and Antony were both late substitutes for Brazil.
All but one of Tottenham Hotspur's 11 World Cup representatives featured in gameweek one for their nations, as they totalled a combined 774 minutes, with Eric Dier the only one of the 10 used not to start as he came on in the 70th minute for England.
Such a total was over double what Liverpool’s own World Cup representatives clocked up as Ben Davies, Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg, Hugo Lloris, Ivan Perisic, Son Heung-min and Rodrigo Bentancur all completed 90 minutes for Wales, Denmark, France, Croatia, South Korea and Uruguay respectively. Meanwhile, Harry Kane and Richarlison were withdrawn after 76 minutes and 79 minutes by England and Brazil, with Christian Romero taken off just short of the hour-mark.
Conor Gallagher and Denis Zakaria were the only two of Chelsea's 12 World Cup representatives to not play in gameweek, as their remaining 10 players out in Qatar all started for their respective nations.
Kalidou Koulibaly, Edouard Mendy, Christian Pulisic, Cesar Azpilicueta, Hakim Ziyech and Thiago Silva all lasted the full 90 minutes for Senegal, USA, Spain, Morocco and Brazil. Meanwhile, Kai Havertz and Mateo Kovacic were taken off in the 79th minute by Germany and Croatia, while Raheem Sterling and Mason Mount were both withdrawn in the 71st minute by England, as Chelsea's World Cup contingent featured for a combined 840 minutes.
Yet, that still trails Man City by a considerable distance as 13 of their 16 World Cup players featured in the first round of fixtures, with 10 of them starting, as they collected a combined total of 944 minutes.
John Stones would complete the full 90 minutes for England, while Jack Grealish and Phil Foden both came on as 71st minute substitutes against Iran, with Julian Alvarez the only other used City player not to start as he came on just after the hour-mark for Argentina.
Meanwhile, Nathan Ake, Rodri, Aymeric Laporte, Kevin De Bruyne, Manuel Akanji, Ruben Dias and Joao Cancelo would all feature for the full 90 minutes for the Netherlands, Spain, Belgium, Switzerland and Portugal, with Bernardo Silva withdrawn after 88 minutes for the latter. Completing Man City’s World Cup quota, Ilkay Gundogan was substituted after 67 minutes as Germany lost to Japan.
Now over a quarter of the way into the World Cup, there is still plenty of football to be played and nothing stopping unused players being turned to or current starters to be dropped or rotated in the weeks ahead. But on the evidence so far, Liverpool are certainly getting off lightly with the World Cup workload compared to some of their biggest Premier League rivals.
With the Reds back in competitive action away at Man City in the League Cup on December 22, they return to Premier League duty away at Aston Villa on Boxing Day. And while they might be out of title contention, they have a seven-point deficit to make up on the top four as they look to qualify for next season’s Champions League.
And while it’s not a clear science, Liverpool’s World Cup’s stars’ limited game-time in comparison to their rivals will hopefully ensure fresher legs and aid them in their efforts to stay clear of injury in the second half of the season and look to make the most of any advantage possible.
At the very least, having regularly bemoaned just how much football elite players are required to play, Klopp will be relieved his players are being spared such additional excursions. Yet despite such small mercies, he'll admittedly be feeling mixed emotions too, frustrated on his players' behalf that some of their national coaches aren't making the most of their talents in Qatar, having also questioned certain international decision-making in the past. Which is the lesser of two evils for the German you wonder?


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