Jurgen Klopp has explained his decision to bench Mohamed Salah in Liverpool’s trip to Crystal Palace, with the Reds boss considering a much-needed rest to be a “good idea” for the Egyptian.
The defending Premier League champions opted to tinker with their attacking plans for a meeting with the Eagles at Selhurst Park.
Leading marksman Salah, fresh from leaving the door open for a future move away from Anfield, was named among the substitutes as Takumi Minamino slotted into the starting XI.
The Japan international required less than three minutes to make an impact, as he opened the scoring in a record-setting 7-0 win, with Salah introduced in place of Sadio Mane with 57 minutes on clock.
He also added another entry to the history books, as he scored two and made another in a lively cameo, with Klopp of the opinion that he made the right calls on individual and collective levels.
The German told reporters at a post-match press conference when asked about his decision to leave Salah out: “It's just the first time for a while that we have the opportunity to do something like this.
“We played Sunday-Wednesday, so we needed fresh legs today. So Joel [Matip] could come in, Naby [Keita] could come in and then we had to think about how we can deal with that in the first line and Mo played the last four games, so a massively intense period. So it was clear it will be him.
“Then usually you would expect in a game like this against Crystal Palace – the result recently between us and them were always pretty tight – so bringing him in the last half an hour, I thought it's a good idea.
“We did that, by the way, but it was not exactly the scenario we would have expected, of course. That's it.”
Minamino, whose versatility has been put to good use across his time at Anfield, caught the eye in an advanced role but Klopp says there is no grand plan on his part to use the 25-year-old as more of an attacker than a midfielder.
He added: “First and foremost, we want to use Taki, so that's it.
“The way we play, if you play for us in midfield, you need to have offensive skills as well. So that means Taki can play there, played twice, played good.
“More importantly, in training he looked really sharp, really in a good shape – that's why he played today. He played a top game today, nice finish and just is in a good moment. That's what we want to use.
“I saw him in the dressing room now and he couldn't avoid smiling all over his face. It's a good moment. He's in a really good place and helps us a lot.”
Liverpool, who have ensured that they will be top of the Premier League table at Christmas, will be back in action on December 27 when they play host to West Brom.