Sunday Dec 20, 2020. 12:00
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has explained why he opted against starting Egyptian star Mohamed Salah in his team’s 7-0 massacre of Crystal Palace on Saturday.
The Reds ensured they would sit at the top of the Premier League table come Christmas thanks to their emphatic win at Selhurst Park.
Takumi Minamino set them on their way inside three minutes when he swept in a first league goal for the champions.
Sublime strikes from Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino followed before the interval, though Palace created a handful of opportunities which they were unable to capitalise on.
Liverpool showed no let-up after the break as Jordan Henderson rasped in a fourth before Firmino clinically added goal number five.
Mohamed Salah came off the bench to round off the scoring with a close-range header followed by a magnificent curling effort to make it seven.
The Egyptian forward’s absence from the run-on XI was a surprise, with Liverpool’s next game only arriving on December 27 when they host West Bromwich Albion. Klopp insisted that it was a good chance to rest the Pharaohs star.
“It’s just the first time for a while that we have the opportunity to do something like this [rest Salah],” Klopp told his club’s official website.
“We played Sunday-Wednesday, so we needed fresh legs today. So Joel [Matip] could come in, Naby[Keita] could come in and then we had to think about how we can deal with that in the first line and Mo played the last four games, so a massively intense period. So it was clear it will be him.
“Then usually you would expect in a game like this against Crystal Palace – the result recents [sic] between us and them were always pretty tight – so bringing him in the last half an hour, I thought it’s a good idea.
“We did that, by the way, but it was not exactly the scenario we would have expected, of course. That’s it.”