Jurgen Klopp is adamant a dip in performance levels isn’t the reason behind Trent Alexander-Arnold again being hauled off by Liverpool.
Alexander-Arnold was substituted shortly before the hour mark for the second time in four days as the Reds were held to a goalless draw at Everton in the 241st Merseyside derby on Saturday.
The right-back, who was below par against Newcastle United in midweek, was again far from at his best before once more being replaced by James Milner.
But while accepting Alexander-Arnold’s level has dipped, Klopp pointed to a need to preserve the player’s fitness given the number of injuries in a Liverpool squad that was bolstered by the surprise availability of loan signing Arthur Melo, who was among the substitutes at Goodison having gained international clearance.
“We have to manage his game time,” said the Reds boss. “Where can we change at the moment? We have players coming in and coming back.
“Arthur (Melo) is now here and will be very important for us, but he didn’t play football for a long, long time and yesterday he played a rondo with us. We thought until last night he wouldn’t be available, it wasn’t the plan to bring him.
“So who do we have on the bench? Millie can play in midfield and both full-back positions and we just thought like the last game that it made sense to bring the fresh legs there, that’s why we decided like this.”
Andy Robertson was benched for Kostas Tsimikas before replacing the Greece international after an hour, while Joel Matip made his return as a late substitute alongside Diogo Jota, who made his first outing of the season after a hamstring problem.
“Trent is playing all the time, Robbo is playing all the time,” said Klopp. “There we have alternatives and we have to use them to bring in fresh energy on the pitch. It’s nothing to do with performance, even though I know Trent can play better today definitely, it’s nothing to do with that.
We just have to get through this period. Yes, players are coming back but they have to be re-integrated. We can’t just bring them in and play them for 90 minutes, it’s not possible. That’s why we need to have a look back and see where we can do the changes and give the game a new or more dynamic again.”