Jurgen Klopp happy with his decision to rest stars at Stoke
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp stands by his decision to rest stars Philippe Coutinho and Roberto Firmino and field an unpractised formation but accepts luck played a significant part in the 2-1 win at Stoke.
With Coutinho having lost three kilograms in three days through illness and Firmino fatigued Klopp insists he had no option but to leave them on the bench at the bet365 Stadium.
A switch to 3-5-2 only increased the instability and that was reflected in a wretched first half in which the Reds were lucky to go in trailing just to Jon Walters' near-post header, the Everton fan's seventh league goal against Liverpool.
"The first half was actually not as good as we thought we could be," said Klopp.
"We made a change to the system but we couldn't train it and that is what everyone could see - everyone did not feel comfortable in the system.
"Defending was not a problem but we didn't defend like we normally do; we couldn't go high pressure.
"We saw we couldn't change the system in the second half, although we did a little bit offensively and created chances."
A dire situation forced Klopp's hand and at half-time he removed teenagers Ben Woodburn and Trent Alexander-Arnold who, through not fault of their own, got lost in the maelstrom.
On went the Brazil duo even though the manager had decided with the sports science team before kick-off both were only good for about 30 minutes' worth of football.
The reaction was instantaneous and, following the introduction of their third attacking option in Daniel Sturridge - himself not ready for 45 minutes of action after injury - the match was turned on its head in 125 seconds as Coutinho's penalty area strike was superseded by his compatriots wonder volley from 25 yards.
"You saw in the second half we were brilliant. Brilliant but for half-an-hour it was difficult," said Klopp.
"It was not the plan to change twice at half-time. Offensive options were difficult because for Daniel (playing from) half-time is really long in an intense game like this.
"I thought a lot about it and no-one understands it but that was my decision.
"I thought we could have played much better than we did but it was clear bringing them on for half-an-hour made sense and they could decide the game.
"It was lucky for us because of the first half but it was deserved and we are completely happy and fine with this game."
Liverpool were indebted to Simon Mignolet for two close-range saves, the first from Charlie Adam with the score at 1-0 and the second a brilliant far-post effort to deny Saido Berahino and hold on to their lead.
"This reaction is what you need to be successful," added Klopp.
"You can't expect your goalkeeper to make saves like this each week but it was like scoring a goal."
Stoke have slipped to 13th after a fourth successive defeat but their eight-point cushion to the relegation zone should be enough to keep them from falling into further trouble.
However, boss Mark Hughes insists they cannot afford to think they are safe after taking nine points from the last 11 matches.
"We need more points on the board, that's clear," he said.
"It's a huge game next week here again (against struggling Hull), we need to get the job done.
"We've just gone through a difficult period in terms of fixtures, playing Man City, Chelsea, Leicester, Burnley with their home record, and Liverpool.
"I knew we had to get through this period with a decent return - we haven't quite managed that.
"The performance was okay but the details of games is where we're falling down.
"Next weekend we need to get the job done and finish the season correctly."