Liverpool players had option to sit out Sunderland match

Jurgen Klopp saw his exhausted squad lose the chance to close the gap on Chelsea to three points as they stumbled to a 2-2 draw at Sunderland, but he’s not blaming his players for the missed opportunity. He even gave them a chance to sit out and rest.

After the match Klopp spoke of his frustration with the packed Premier League schedule, but praised his players for their commitment:

“I told the players if nobody wanted to play I would never speak about [it] and not tell anyone, but nobody came. That was a good thing,” said the effervescent German.

Klopp made just one change from the team that beat Manchester City two days earlier, inserting Daniel Sturridge into the lineup for the injured Jordan Henderson. Sadio Mane suited up again for the third time in seven days despite now heading off to the Africa Cup of Nations, while the fresh and in-form Divock Origi was held in reserve until the 73rd minute, coming on for Georginio Wijnaldum.

Klopp didn’t make any excuses for his team’s showing at the Stadium of Light. “Maybe we can play better football,” said Klopp. “But not with a one-day break. But I have to accept. It’s like the fixtures, I cannot change anything. We have to accept the results of the other teams, there is a long way to go. We have a long trip home. Sorry for my mood.”

With Mane on his way to AFCON and a packed fixture list, things aren’t going to get much easier. It remains to be seen if Klopp turns to the transfer window to bolster his side, or if he trusts the depth of his squad to rotate more. January could be a make or break for Liverpool, and with his side already tired, he’s got his work cut out for him.