London, United Kingdom | AFP | Jurgen Klopp said he would name a more senior side for Liverpool’s FA Cup trip to Chelsea on Tuesday after relying on the club’s talented youngsters to make it to the fifth round.
Klopp left under-23 coach Neil Critchley, who was named Blackpool manager on Monday, in charge for a 1-0 fourth-round replay win over Shrewsbury, while Klopp and his senior players enjoyed a two-week winter break.
However, the layoff has done Liverpool little good in recent weeks. They returned rusty and lost for the first time in 45 Premier League games at Watford on Saturday, beaten 3-0.
Klopp could still rest a number of key players at Stamford Bridge but pointed to a 2-2 draw at Shrewsbury that forced the replay in January as indicative of his plans.
Adrian, Dejan Lovren, Joel Matip, Fabinho and Divock Origi all started that game, while Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain came off the bench.
“It didn’t destruct us, it’s just the situation,” Klopp said at his pre-match press conference on Monday, referring to the Watford defeat. “Nobody can tell us how to deal in the best way with runs like this because not a lot of teams had it.
“I was not happy with the performance but I was always clear there will be a moment when it can happen. Now it happened, that’s how it is, nothing else.
“It’s a different situation like it was in the last round. If you see the Shrewsbury team at Shrewsbury that was a FA Cup team for us in the moment we thought would make sense.
“It will not be the same team that played the second game against Shrewsbury.”
Chelsea are also desperate for a cup pick-me-up as they were thrashed 3-0 at home by Bayern Munich in the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie and have won just five of their past 16 Premier League games.
The faltering form of the chasing pack behind them means Frank Lampard’s men are still clinging onto fourth place in the Premier League and Klopp insisted the former England midfielder is still doing a fine job in his first full season at Stamford Bridge.
“The way they go is really promising and Frank is doing an incredible job, but for all managers and especially Frank, he was a very successful player, to deal with defeats is the biggest challenge,” added Klopp.
“The fight for the Champions League means you have to beat three or four teams with similar circumstances, similar opportunities in a really long and demanding season. That’s not so easy.”