Liverpool’s Brazilian midfielder Roberto Firmino (C) celebrates with teammates after scoring a goal on November 21, 2017 at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan stadium in Sevilla during the UEFA Champions League group E football match between Sevilla FC and Liverpool FC. / AFP PHOTO / CRISTINA QUICLER
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp insisted he won’t ditch his rotation policy after the German’s decision to make six changes back-fired in a 0-0 draw against lowly West Bromwich Albion.
Klopp claimed Liverpool were unlucky as they were denied victory when Dominic Solanke had a goal ruled out for handball with eight minutes left at Anfield on Wednesday.
Solanke’s disallowed goal was the main talking point, but the discussion before kick-off centred around the Liverpool manager’s decision to significantly alter the team who were held to a 1-1 draw at home by Everton on Sunday.
Klopp recalled Philippe Coutinho and Roberto Firmino, both surprisingly named on the bench against Everton, to form a powerful attacking threat along with Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah.
He also brought Emre Can and Georginio Wijnaldum into midfield, named Trent Alexander-Arnold in place of Joe Gomez at right-back and replaced Simon Mignolet with Loris Karius in goal.
Klopp said that Mignolet was rested as a precaution after picking up an ankle knock against Everton, and said he felt the team he picked was capable of winning the game.
His selections have come under the spotlight for the number of times he switches personnel; he has made no fewer than 65 changes to his starting line-ups in the Premier League this season, more than any other manager in the division.
Asked if he felt his selection against West Brom worked, Klopp said: “That’s not my job to talk about. I made the decision already, and if we don’t win, for me, it’s like it didn’t work.
“That happens quite a lot in the life of a manager. But it would make no sense to be too frustrated about that.
“I was 100 percent convinced about this line-up, like I was 100 percent convinced about the last line-up. But this time at least you cannot blame me for it, or probably you will, I’m not sure.”
– No luck for Klopp –
Klopp felt that Solanke’s disallowed goal was a borderline decision, even though television replays suggested that it was handball.
“It’s difficult. For me, it’s twice deflected and I’m still not sure if the hand was with the ball. It looks like chest. In the game it looked 100 per cent like chest,” he said.
“Afterwards I had a few replays, there’s an arm but not sure if he touches the ball.
“It must be a really good assistant that made the decision. He will be happy probably if there was a hand involved.
“That’s another moment where we had no luck, because if he doesn’t see it or he’s not sure – or not as sure as he obviously was – it’s a goal.”
West Brom set an unwanted club record of 16 consecutive matches without victory, yet emerged with great credit for seeing out the game to earn the point that lifted them out of the Premier League relegation zone.
Albion boss Alan Pardew said the decision to disallow Solanke’s goal was a brave call.
“It hit Solanke and he’s swung his arm and it’s gone in. It’s a brave call for a linesman to make in front of the Kop,” he said.
“It was the right decision but it was a brave decision, so I thank him for that.
“Until we get everybody fit and available, winning games is going to be tough for us. Every point is gold dust for us and this is a really point for us.
“We’ve climbed out of the relegation zone. These psychological things are important.
“We didn’t come here to open the game up. We couldn’t do that. We needed to gain belief by being very disciplined. I couldn’t fault the players on that side.”