Liverpool hamstring crisis after Stoke win – is Klopp to blame?
Reds secure first leg advantage in League Cup semi-final, but victory comes at quite a cost
Stoke City 0 Liverpool 1.
A first-half goal from Jordan Ibe has left Liverpool in a strong position to reach the final of the Capital One Cup, although a glut of hamstring injuries took the sheen off the result and prompted questions about Jurgen Klopp's managerial style.
A tight affair in the first leg of the semi-final at the Britannia Stadium was decided by Ibe's strike on 37 minutes, although the Reds had goalkeeper Simon Mignolet to thank for two sharp saves from Glen Johnson and Joselu.
The result puts Liverpool in the driving seat ahead of the second leg at Anfield on 26 January with the winner of the tie facing either Manchester City or Everton at Wembley on 28 February.
But Liverpool's victory was marred by first-half injuries to midfielder Philippe Coutinho and defender Dejan Lovren. Both limped off with hamstring problems, and there was also concern about Kolo Toure, who also finished the game clutching the back of his leg. The trio will undergo medical tests today and, if they turn out to be serious injuries, Liverpool might be forced into the transfer market.
"This is something we have to think about," admitted manager Jurgen Klopp. "Two weeks ago we had three centre-backs, which is a good situation, and the season started with five - but now it is zero."
Asked about the spate of injuries, Klopp told reporters: "Maybe I could look at our training methods but we don't train we only recover. There is no training. I'm responsible for these things and if you want to make me responsible for our hamstring strains, then OK."
However, former Liverpool star Graeme Souness told Sky Sports that he believed the arrival of Klopp is a factor in the injury crisis that has also sidelined Martin Skrtel, Joe Gomez, Mamadou Sakho - all with hamstring injuries.
"Jurgen Klopp came in after 11 games and the players, certainly the players who were playing, would have had good fitness," explained Souness. "All the talk was 'we're going to be energetic, we're going to be high press at every opportunity'. That demands real fitness. It's a difficult balance coming in after 11 games to push the players when they're playing two, maybe three games a week, weekend, midweek, weekend. I think it's a hard thing, a big ask to do that and not suffer the problems they've suffered."