Jurgen Klopp facing selection headache despite Liverpool’s comfortable Atletico Madrid win

Jurgen Klopp previews Liverpool's game with Atletico Madrid

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Liverpool secured their spot in the knockout stages of the Champions League after beating Atletico Madrid 2-0. The game was, as expected, intense and fiery, but there were also some moments of brilliance from the Reds, but one performance in particular gave Jurgen Klopp a lot to think about.

Liverpool took the lead after 13 minutes when Diogo Jota was left unmarked at the back post and nodded home a inch-perfect Trent Alexander-Arnold cross

The English fullback registered his second assist of the tie just eight minutes later when he fizzed a shot-looking cross into the path of Sadio Mane to tap home.

The intensity of the match then stepped up a notch when referee Danny Makiele sent Felipe off after the defender refused to receive his yellow card for a cynical foul on Mane. The referee also showed seven yellow cards overall.

Klopp’s side didn’t come away from the game unscathed though as several players looked like they may have picked up minor injuries over the course of the 90minutes, with Roberto Firmino walking straight down the tunnel after playing 32 minutes in the second half.

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Klopp decided to play a midfield trio of Jordan Henderson, Fabinho and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain against Atletico, but the latter was a mixed bag when given a great opportunity to impress.

With Naby Keita and James Milner sidelined with injuries and Thiago Alcantara rested having been absent for the last six weeks, Oxlade-Chamberlain was given the chance to show that Klopp doesn’t need to sign a midfielder in the January.

However, for every positive influence the Englishman had on the match, he made a mistake.

The former Arsenal player misplaced several chances in the first half of the game and also wasted two clear-cut chances where he really should have at least hit the target.

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But in the second-half, the it was a different story for Oxlade-Chamberlain, he created several chances and did a great job at recovering possession and fuelling attacks from deeper areas. There were glimpses of real quality from the playmaker.

The midfielder linked up well with Konstantinos Tsimikas and the pair created numerous openings down the left.

As the game went on, Oxlade-Chamberlain got better and better which may suggest that if Klopp puts more faith in the former winger then he could be a very useful asset for the Reds.

But the second 45 minutes were comfortable for Liverpool generally and was more a game of ‘keep ball’ for Liverpool than a tight contest, so Klopp will be aware of that when trying to judge the ex-Southampton player’s performance.

The former Borussia Dortmund boss will need to decide whether he feels his midfield would benefit from further depth, or whether Oxlade-Chamberlain is capable of stepping up when needed. The Reds will have a budget to replace the midfielder if the manager does not feel he has been good enough.

This isn’t the first time that the midfielder, who was linked with a return to the Emirates Stadium over the summer, has put in an inconsistent display in the last seven days.

The 28-year-old brilliantly set up Mane’s goal against Brighton at the weekend, but was blamed for the Seagulls’ equaliser during the 2-2.

Klopp jumped to his defence before the Champions League fixture on Wednesday night, saying: “The right side worked really well together with Naby, Trent and Mo. Oxlade came on and Oxlade obviously [has] a completely different skillset.

“Completely different to Naby, very good one as well, but different. By the way, he set up the second goal!

“It was not about Oxlade, it’s just about how you do things usually, then you have to change them, all these kinds of things.”

It remains to be seen how busy Liverpool are in the transfer market but their recent injury woes in the centre of the park could seriously derail their title charge if they continue.

Klopp could easily put his faith in youth and Oxlade-Chamberlain, but the latter will need to improve and fast if he is to prevent potentially being sold to fund January incoming.

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