Waiting game: Klopp is awaiting updates on the fitness of key stars

Jurgen Klopp must improve his injury prevention methods, the Merseysiders have no fit centre-backs and other things we learned from Stoke 0 Liverpool 1

By Editor Wayne Veysey

Klopp needs to adjust training programme

After achieving memorable wins at Chelsea, Manchester City and Southampton, Klopp was hailed as a messiah for implementing a high-pressing game so quickly and successfully. The price for overhauling the team’s training programme in mid season and asking for more running from the players has been paid virtually uninterrupted ever since. Philippe Coutinho and Dejan Lovren became the latest Liverpool players to suffer hamstring injuries when they limped out of the Stoke clash tonight before the half-time whistle had even been blown, while Kolo Toure pulled up late on with a similar problem. Klopp must adjust his training programme to keep the players fresh, or he might not be left with many left to select.

Liverpool have a team of injured players

The Anfield casualty list has now grown to an astonishing 11 players, and would have been 12 had James Milner not returned to action against Stoke as a substitute for Lovren. Of the absentees, at least six could be expected to be in the first team (Coutinho, Martin Skrtel, Daniel Sturridge, Danny Ings, Jordan Henderson, Mamadou Sakho), while four of the others (Divock Origi, Dejan Lovren, Joe Gomez and Jon Flanagan) would likely compete for a place in the 18-man matchday squad. Only Jordan Rossiter would struggle to make it. That is quite a list unavailable for selection.

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Red hot: Lallana delivered a much-improved display against Stoke
Red hot: Lallana delivered a much-improved display against Stoke

Lallana thrives in striker-less formation

It is no coincidence that Adam Lallana’s most convincing performances this season have come when Christian Benteke has been on the bench – against Chelsea, Manchester City, Southampton and, now, against Stoke. Intriguingly, all have also been away from home. The England international was excellent tonight, delivering a performance oozing such class that it makes you wonder why he does not do it more often. With his quick feet and even quicker mind, Lallana linked superbly with Roberto Firmino, Coutinho (before his injury) and Jordan Ibe. More than anyone, Lallana thrives in a striker-less formation and does not appear well-suited to Benteke’s game.

Liverpool have no fit centre-backs

In no position are Liverpool more injury-ravaged than centre-back, where there are now no men left standing. After Toure pulled up with cramp in the final minutes of this clash and was reduced to a virtual spectator in added time as the visitors had used all three substitutes, midfielders Lucas and Emre Can were forced to drop back and protect the 1-0 lead. The rejigged defence, led manfully by Toure, did a mighty fine job following Lovren’s early injury, but it will be of huge concern to Klopp and his backroom team that there might be no fit centre-backs to face Exeter in the FA Cup on Friday night.

Michael Owen has questioned whether Christian Benteke is good enough for Liverpool
Benteke has paid the price for some static showings up front

Benteke pays price for static showings

Another big match and another demotion to the substitute’s bench for Christian Benteke. Despite scoring matchwinning goals against Leicester and Sunderland over the festive period, and despite Daniel Sturridge, Divock Origi and Danny Ings all sidelined through injury, Benteke was overlooked.  The Belgian paid the price for too many static displays in which he failed to dovetail with the attacking midfielders behind. Klopp wants more movement and mobility from his front man and is willing to go without an established striker if he does not get it.