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Jurgen Klopp Said 'Sorry' to Xherdan Shaqiri over Lack of Liverpool Playing Time

James Dudko@@JamesDudkoFeatured ColumnistDecember 5, 2019

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 14: Jurgen Klopp, Manager of Liverpool gives Xherdan Shaqiri of Liverpool instructions during the Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Newcastle United at Anfield on September 14, 2019 in Liverpool, United Kingdom. (Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images)
Jan Kruger/Getty Images

Jurgen Klopp offered Xherdan Shaqiri an apology for the winger's lack of playing time after the Switzerland international made his first Premier League start since January for Wednesday's 5-2 win over Everton in the Merseyside derby. 

Shaqiri came in for Mohamed Salah and scored the Reds' second goal at Anfield. His excellent performance prompted Klopp to address Shaqiri's lack of playing time, per the club's official website:

"[Seven months] really? Sorry Shaq! He was injured a couple of times. If he could have scored two goals like Divock [Origi] instead of one, I could say exactly the same [as I said about Origi].

"He looked completely fresh, he looked strong, physically strong, so it is important players train after they get injured. He had twice this calf thing this season, so there was not a lot to change but I think he has been back in training for two or three weeks now completely normal.

"He understood the situation, that's how it is in a squad when you win a lot of games, you don't make 20 changes."

Klopp's reference to his side's winning form is understandable since the trouncing of the Toffees extended Liverpool's unbeaten run in England's top flight to 32 matches:

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Liverpool set a new club record of 32 consecutive games unbeaten in the league 💪 https://t.co/nkXTBVsHNe

More records have been yielded, with Klopp reaching the 100 Premier League wins mark faster than any other Liverpool boss:

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159 games. 100 wins. 💥 Jürgen Klopp is the second-fastest manager to reach a century of Premier League victories in the competition’s history. José Mourinho’s record still stands... https://t.co/jFScwjaDlb

Numbers on this level have been made possible by a number of factors. Not the least of which has been the underrated strength in depth of Klopp's squad.

Those qualities were exemplified by Shaqiri and two-goal derby hero Divock Origi on Wednesday. The latter was given the nod to start so Roberto Firmino could begin on the bench.

Both Origi and Shaqiri profited from Sadio Mane's vision and technique. The winger created Liverpool's first two goals, including playing the pass for Shaqiri's sweet finish on 17 minutes.

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Shaqiri finding the net offered a reminder of his value to Liverpool. It was a similar story with midfield workhorse James Milner and gifted schemer Adam Lallana.

Chief among Shaqiri's assets is versatility, with the former Stoke City star able to play on either flank, through the middle or as a No. 10. Those attributes are why Shaqiri represented a true bargain when Klopp secured his signing for just £13 million back in 2018.

The start against Everton allowed Klopp to rest attacking talisman Salah, who has been hobbled by an ongoing ankle injury. It requires careful management by Klopp, particularly during a month when the league leaders face genuine fixture congestion.

After beating the Toffees, Liverpool still have to negotiate at least seven more matches in December. The run starts with Saturday's trip to take on Bournemouth at the Vitality Stadium.

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Also good to note that Xherdan Shaqiri one of only three #LFC players to cover more than 10km on the night. Milner (obviously) top, and then Wijnaldum. Speaks volumes for Shaqiri's fitness, conditioning and mentality I'd say, after so long without a significant appearance.

It will also include participation in the FIFA Club World Cup, a Carabao Cup quarter-final against Aston Villa and the final game in Group E of the UEFA Champions League against FC Salzburg.

Klopp's team, chasing a first top-flight title since 1990, won't cope with the demands of a schedule this busy without being able to rely on more quality contributions from fringe players like Shaqiri.

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