Jurgen Klopp described Liverpool’s bench at Crystal Palace as the strongest he has ever had and says strength in depth is key to their ambitions this season.
Daniel Sturridge, Philippe Coutinho and match-winner Christian Benteke were all named among the substitutes for the 2-1 victory at Selhurst Park, which was decided when Benteke won and converted a controversial penalty in the last minute of injury time.
Klopp believes the talent at his disposal bodes well for the rest of the campaign as Liverpool prepare for a Europa League last-16 clash with Manchester United before they resume their top-four push against Southampton on March 20.
“To be honest, I have never had a bench with this quality in 15 years as a manager – this bench was important,” he said afterwards.
“If you have a bench like this, you know that on the pitch you have a good team, but we needed a good team because Crystal Palace are really difficult. We knew it from the first game [a 2-1 loss at Anfield in November] and now we’ve taken the points back, I think everything is okay.
“A team with big ambitions, you need a strong bench. A strong bench is players who are 100 per cent fit and in 100 per cent form and shape.
“That was a strong bench – the first time we’ve had this. We’ve had a lot of form and shape on the bench, but never fitness because they’ve come back after four and five weeks [after injury]. Hopefully it stays like this.”
Klopp went on to challenge Liverpool’s players to earn their spot in the starting XI should they become frustrated with life among the substitutes.
“If somebody is angry because he doesn’t start, no problem – show it on the pitch,” he added.