Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp paid testament to the strength of his squad after a side lacking Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino comfortably beat Everton 5-2 in the Merseyside derby.
The victory was the Reds’ 14th in 15 league matches and maintained their eight-point lead at top of the Premier League.
Crucially those players he brought in as Salah and Firmino’s replacements – Divock Origi and Xherdan Shaqiri – had key roles, with Origi’s double taking his tally to five goals in four Anfield derbies and with Shaqiri also scoring.
The excellent Sadio Mane, the only one of the famed front three to start, added a fourth as the first half finished 4-2 after Michael Keane and Richarlison replied for the visitors.
Mane could have had another couple after the break but it was left to Georginio Wijnaldum to apply the finishing touch in the 90th minute as Everton’s winless run at Anfield extended beyond 20 years and left manager Marco Silva’s job hanging by a thread.
With a packed programme over December and January Klopp has to find a way of giving his key players a break and this was one of those occasions.
“As a manager you hope for it and then the boys deliver and it is the best feeling you can get as a manager,” he said of the success of his changes.
“It didn’t surprise me but I didn’t expect it in that manner. It was really good. It helped us.
“The boys know now it is easy for me to tell them how good they are …
“When they play and deliver like they did it is very good for the whole squad.”
Forty-three points from a possible 45 is an almost impossible start to the season but Klopp is only focused on keeping the run going.
“It is just a number, 43, but three is the next number when we play against Bournemouth,” he added.
“They are not happy with their situation (having lost four in row). They want to strike back so we have to be ready for that.
“That is the only thing I am really thinking about. Stats are cool after the season, but in it, I’m not interested.”