Jurgen Klopp has insisted that Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Naby Keita are not competing against each other in the Liverpool midfield.
Oxlade-Chamberlain replaced Keita after 57 minutes of Monday’s 3-2 win over West Ham with the Reds 2-1 down.
Klopp admitted that Keita, who has made nine Premier League appearances, was not at his best against the Hammers, but is adamant that it is not a battle for a starting berth between the pair.
“They are not competing against each other. They offer different things. Naby can play better obviously, but Ox came on and gave a different direction,” said Klopp, who has handed Oxlade-Chamberlain 11 Premier League starts this season.
“We need different players for situations and they are all exceptional. Until the change we were more fixed in positions than we should have been, it was not flexible enough.
“We were too high on the wings. The main problem was second balls and set pieces.
“With these situations West Ham were constantly in the game,. This will be similar, Foster to Deeney will be frequently used so we need to be there and win the second balls. Against West Ham we were second best.”
Klopp, speaking about being behind against West Ham, said: “It doesn’t mean we want to go a goal down to get started. Some people used the word complacency and saw glimpses of that but I didn’t see that at all.
“It’s a long season and concentration can drop at times in games. But how much boys fight for result is exceptional.
“I watched it back and being 2-1 down helped us a little bit because the direction was different after that. There was a lot of time left (when we went behind). I didn’t know it was first time v Aston Villa we were behind (in Premier League).”
Quizzed about his injury list, Klopp said: “All are coming closer. Hendo is running, Millie is running even more.
“Not enough for this game, but we will see especially Millie what we can do for Tuesday. Hendo and Shaq not yet. All coming close.”
Askeed about the challenge Watford will pose, Klopp added: “I know didn’t know Nigel Pearson well before he joined Watford. He has a really interesting history and I couldn’t respect more what he is doing.
“You could see immediately the impact he has had. Performances, they are doing well still.
“It’s tough. You need each point you can get and they haven’t had that.
“They will strike back, I bet.”