Jurgen Klopp opens up on team decision that has hurt Liverpool this season

Jurgen Klopp admits having to use 12 different central defensive partnerships has hurt Liverpool all over the pitch.

The Reds head to West Ham tomorrow looking to maintain hopes of retaining their Premier League title after a promising win over Tottenham on Thursday.

But they are still likely to go into the game seven points behind leaders Manchester City.

The obvious reason for their downturn in results this term is the loss of Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez to long-term injuries.

And although they haven't leaked goals, the injury crisis has led to many changes in defence with Fabinho and Jordan Henderson having to fill in.

That has hurt the Reds in other areas but the constant changing of defensive partners has meant a loss of stability in defence.

Klopp said: “Football is all about individual skills of course – we have to bring them together and we have to make it work.

“So it's about the structure of the team, stability, reliability, knowing what the other boy is doing in this moment so you can react or prepare your reaction.

“It's about leadership as well.

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“On the pitch that means who leads the line?

“It's not a secret that Virgil van Dijk leads our last line so, organisation-wise, who pushes up, move here, move there; all these kind of things. It just developed in that manner.

“Then it was the job for Joe for a while, who grew into the job good, then Joe was out and Joel [Matip] played together with Fabinho.

“Both of those players are not the most vocal players on the pitch, let me say it like this, plus we miss our natural six.

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“When we speak about structure and stability that changes the whole set-up.

“Usually in football when one player has the ball all the others kind of know what will happen because they are used to it.

“That then cost us our fluidity. No look passes, for example, are pretty much no longer possible because you have no idea where the guy who didn't play last week will go.

“That's the situation, and I think we dealt quite well with that so far.”

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There will be another new partnership likely tomorrow with Matip unlikely to feature and Fabinho also out so Jordan Henderson will continue in central defence most likely alongside Nat Phillips.

It is yet another blow for the Reds, who are taking on the in-form Hammers.

Klopp added: “Still everybody expects us to play our best season.

“That’s ok – but we only have to win football games, find a solution and win football games, and make the season as special as possible, that’s what we try to do.”

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