Liverpool fans were baffled by manager Jurgen Klopp’s decision to replace Cody Gakpo when they needed a goal against Crystal Palace earlier today (25 February).
The scoreline stood at 0-0 when Klopp decided to take off the Netherlands international for midfielder Stefan Bajcetic in the 84th minute. Gakpo scored in the league wins against Everton and Newcastle United earlier this month.
Fans were hopeful that he would make it three goals in his last three league games when he started against the Eagles. However, like his teammates, was ineffective at Selhurst Park as the Reds slumped to a goalless draw away from home.
Klopp’s first substitution came at half-time when Naby Keita was brought off for Harvey Elliott. Diogo Jota was taken off for Roberto Firmino in what was a straight swap in the 71st minute.
However, he went on to make the relatively unpopular decision to replace Trent Alexander-Arnold with Fabinho Tavares, which meant that James Milner shifted to right-back.
This meant that one of the league’s most potent creators was off the field with 19 minutes left on the clock. Jordan Henderson being on the pitch for the entirety of the game also failed to please the entirety of the Liverpool fanbase.
Here are some of the best reactions from fans on Twitter after Gakpo was surprisingly replaced in the dying embers of the game:
Liverpool missed a golden opportunity to reduce the gap between themselves and fourth-placed Tottenham Hotspur to four points. They now trail the Lilywhites by six points but have a game in hand.
Liverpool boss explains two substitutions in Crystal Palace draw
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp explained his reasoning behind substituting Naby Keita and Trent Alexander-Arnold against Crystal Palace.
The Guinea international picked up a 23rd-minute yellow card for fouling Michael Olise. Given his role in midfield, this would have placed the former RB Leipzig midfielder under immense pressure.
Alexander-Arnold, meanwhile, did not suffer an injury and neither was he poor. According to Klopp, he was trying to manage the England international’s playing time.
The German tactician told Sky Sports (h/t BBC) after the game:
“Naby had an early yellow card and then it’s difficult. Trent plays all the games, so that makes it really tricky. I didn’t take him off because he was bad, but he plays all the games so I had to change.”
He has played in all but four of Liverpool’s 36 games across competitions this season.