Jurgen Klopp revealed he had consistently reassured Naby Keita before the midfielder starred when given his chance for Liverpool against Bournemouth.

Keita scored and provided an assist on his first start of the Premier League season in Saturday's 3-0 win at the Vitality Stadium.

A £53million signing from RB Leipzig in 2018, Keita has had his difficulties since arriving at Anfield and Klopp said he frequently spoke to the Guinea international regarding his standing at Liverpool.

"Naby is sitting outside and thinks 'why don't I play?’ I get all that," the Liverpool manager told UK newspapers.

"So we stayed in contact, we talked and we spoke a lot about it, but in the end of course the player needs to have this evidence that the coach or the manager still believes in you.

"Naby had injuries and the team was and is in really good shape, so then do you change and, if you want to change, we are not flying – it's not like we won all our games 4-0 or 5-0 – so we [have] had to bring on a player who helps defending set-pieces."

After Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain opened the scoring at Bournemouth, Keita struck before setting up Mohamed Salah for the Premier League leaders.

As Liverpool's rotation continued for the encounter, Klopp said his squad understood the situation.

"It's not difficult for me to leave players out," he said.

"I didn't speak to Sadio [Mane] about it. I didn't speak to Divock Origi. I didn't speak to Bobby [Firmino] or Mo last week. I didn't speak to Hendo [Jordan Henderson].

"I didn't ask. I just have to make decisions and then next time everyone knows someone else will play.

"The boys are a really smart group who look at the schedule. They know how it is."

Liverpool visit Salzburg on Tuesday needing to avoid defeat to reach the Champions League last 16.

December: The month Liverpool's Premier League title bid is supposed to come off the tracks.

Yet here we are, seven advent calendar chocolates down, numerous Christmas parties already in the books, and Jurgen Klopp's Reds keep adding to their own Carry On series: Carry On Winning.

The 5-2 victory over Everton on Wednesday was their first of nine games in 26 days across the final month of the year. A festive schedule so packed it might rival the Radio Times' bumper Christmas edition.

How would a squad perceived to be weaker than rivals Manchester City's group cope with such a haul? One that includes two games in as many days, in countries 3,000 miles apart.

The early indications are they will be just fine.

Divock Origi and Xherdan Shaqiri came in and scored three of Liverpool's five goals against Everton. Neither kept their place on Saturday as Klopp rolled the dice again by making seven changes.

Three of those who came in - Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Naby Keita and Mohamed Salah - scored the goals in a 3-0 success over the Cherries, who have now lost their past five Premier League games against Liverpool by an aggregate score of 17-0.

Oxlade-Chamberlain, on target in the Premier League for the first time since January 2018, and Keita became the 15th and 16th outfield players to score for the Reds in the division this term. Liverpool have used just 19, including teenager Curtis Jones, who came on for his Premier League debut 14 minutes from time.

There was a time when Klopp would not have felt as comfortable making such wholesale changes.

Players like Dominic Solanke, who failed to impress for Bournemouth on Saturday, were simply not able to replicate the performances of the men ahead of them in the pecking order when they came in. It was why sustained title challenges never materialised. Now - with Liverpool ending the day 11 points clear - it feels different.

Even without the injured Joel Matip and Fabinho, with Trent Alexander-Arnold, top scorer Sadio Mane and Origi only in reserve to begin with, with Dejan Lovren coming off with a problem, Liverpool did not miss a beat.

The most impressive performer was Salah, which has not always been the case in 2019-20.

The Egyptian had scored just once since the end of October but appeared refreshed and revitalised having had Wednesday night off.

It was his delicious backheel assist that took out three Bournemouth players and teed up Keita for the second, with the roles then reversed for a game-sealing third after the break.

Of course, sterner tests than out-of-sorts Everton and Bournemouth lie in wait, including a crucial Champions League encounter with Salzburg on Tuesday and a top-of-the-table tussle at Leicester City on Boxing Day.

Yet this is a Liverpool side boasting greater strength in depth, one equipped for a flurry of festive fixtures across four competitions.

Surely only the grinches can confidently predict December will be Liverpool's undoing this time around?

Naby Keita scored on his first Premier League start of the season as Liverpool consolidated their position at the top of table with a comfortable 3-0 win at Bournemouth on Saturday.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain had given Jurgen Klopp's side the lead with his league goal since January 2018 before Keita added a second just before half-time.

Mohamed Salah made it three shortly after the break, and the Reds kept a rare clean sheet, ending a run of 13 matches in all competitions without one.

Liverpool moved 11 points ahead of second-placed Leicester City, who play on Sunday, and 14 clear of champions Manchester City ahead of their derby clash with Manchester United later in the day.

After a low-key start, Bournemouth lost defender Nathan Ake to an apparent hamstring injury following a challenge on Salah just after the half-hour mark.

And Liverpool took full advantage moments later when captain Jordan Henderson lifted a high ball over the top of the reshuffled Bournemouth defence and Oxlade-Chamberlain cushioned a first-time finish past goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale

Liverpool suffered an injury setback of their own when Dejan Lovren departed clutching the back of his leg, but the Reds added a second goal on the stroke of half-time.

A superbly crafted team move culminated in Salah's backheel for Keita, who poked inside the right-hand post.

Liverpool then ended the game as a contest nine minutes into the second period when Jack Simpson lost possession to Keita, who returned the first-half favour and fed Salah to apply a cool finish.

Bournemouth's day got worse when leading marksman Callum Wilson limped limped off - also seemingly suffering with a hamstring problem - and Liverpool cruised through to full-time.

Jurgen Klopp hopes Liverpool's fringe players can step up following the blow of Fabinho's ankle ligament injury.

The Brazil midfielder will be sidelined until the new year after suffering ankle ligament damage during Wednesday's 1-1 Champions League draw at home to Napoli.

Fabinho is the only specialist option in the holding role at Klopp's disposal, although Georginio Wijnaldum showed his adaptability by dropping back against the Serie A side.

Captain Jordan Henderson is another experienced option who can operate in front of the defence for the Premier League leaders, and either man reverting to that position would create opportunities in attacking midfield.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has impressed since returning from a serious knee injury and won back his place in the England squad, while Naby Keita, Adam Lallana and Xherdan Shaqiri have all had their opportunities limited by form and fitness issues.

"We have guys with a lack of minutes for different reasons like Shaq and Naby," Klopp told reporters ahead of Saturday's home game against Brighton and Hove Albion.

"We don't have the biggest squad in the world and now we have two defensive players in Joel [Matip] and Fabinho with long-term injuries.

"It's not cool. They all will play. It’s time to be there for all of us and all the boys especially.

"In our preparation for the Napoli game, we watched the game last season and Hendo played in that position then. Gini played in the position already. Adam Lallana played in the position.

"We can change system, we can do different things. Losing a player with the quality of Fabinho is big, massive, really bad. but we are not the only team in the Premier League with injuries.

"It's not cool but it was clear Fab couldn't have played all the games from now until March anyway."

Fabinho's injury is particularly ill-timed as Liverpool enter a busy December that includes their jaunt to the Club World Cup in Qatar after a decisive final Champions League Group match at Salzburg.

"December is always a tough period. We have had wonderful Decembers, but very average Januarys," Klopp added.

"So it is about going through and getting as many points as you can."

Liverpool are motivated to maintain their unbeaten streak in the Premier League and go one better than last season by lifting the title, according to midfielder Naby Keita.

Jurgen Klopp's side have not lost in 27 top-flight matches since January's 2-1 reverse to Manchester City, four short of the club's all-time record, set between May 1987 and March 1988.

The Reds finished a point behind champions City last season but are six clear this time around after winning nine and drawing one of their opening 10 league games.

Next up for the leaders is a trip to Aston Villa on Saturday and Guinea international Keita, who requires a late fitness test, does not expect his side to take their foot off the gas.

"You always have to remain focused," he told the club's official website. "It's that focus that brings the desire - and it's that desire that helps you a lot in achieving your goals.

"It's that momentum that motivates us, builds confidence and drives us to do even better. That's the goal we all set ourselves as players, as a club and as the manager too. I believe we will remain focused and calm and continue to make progress.

"We know we have players who like to beat our own records. We know what we achieved last season, but we're not going to just look back on that achievement with any sense of complacency - we're going to try to do even better than last year."

Not helped by an injury at the start of the season, Keita has been restricted to eight minutes of Premier League action this term and was an unused sub in last week's 2-1 win over Tottenham.

Liverpool fell behind to Harry Kane's goal after 47 seconds, but a Jordan Henderson strike was followed up by Mohamed Salah's penalty as the Reds rallied to secure all three points.

"A tough match like the one we just had gives you more experience, so you can try in subsequent training sessions to eliminate those faults or those attempts that didn't work out right," Keita said.

"We set about correcting those few errors we made in the match against Tottenham during our training sessions in the lead-up to the match at Aston Villa. Going there and putting in a good performance is paramount for us.

"As far as I am concerned, not all matches are the same, but we were happy to get the three points against Tottenham, that was essential. You can't always run every game the way you might like to, but the key thing is to come away with the three points."

Jurgen Klopp has confirmed Liverpool will be without Joel Matip for "a few weeks" more due to his knee injury, meaning he is expected to miss the potentially vital clash with Manchester City.

Matip began suffering from discomfort in the win over Sheffield United at the end of September, though he managed to feature in the 1-1 draw at Manchester United on October 20.

Despite that return, the 28-year-old defender did not look completely sharp at Old Trafford and has missed the Reds' three matches since.

Before the next international break later this month, Liverpool face Aston Villa, Genk in the Champions League and then Manchester City, their biggest threat in the Premier League title race.

While Naby Keita's situation appears less certain after he sustained a minor strain in the EFL Cup clash with Arsenal, Matip looks set to miss the next three matches, meaning Joe Gomez and Dejan Lovren are likely to be called upon.

When asked about the fitness of Keita and Matip, Klopp told reporters: "Naby, I don't know yet, we'll see.

"And Joel, he is not ready for the next few weeks, unfortunately. A couple is two [weeks] – a few is more than three [weeks]. He needs more than a couple."

Meanwhile, Klopp is contemplating the idea of resting midfielder Fabinho against Villa on Saturday due to the Brazilian being one booking away from missing the City clash through suspension.

The German said: "I don't know yet. I will have to see. I know he is [one booking from suspension]. No challenges at all!

"It's not possible to play against Aston Villa and play without making tackles, we know that. We have to deal with this information, either him or me with the line-up."

Jurgen Klopp hailed the performance of his young players as "wonderful" after he made 11 changes to his team and saw Liverpool beat Arsenal in a penalty shoot-out following a 5-5 EFL Cup draw at Anfield.

The Reds twice came from behind to take the match to penalties and teenage midfielder Curtis Jones scored the winning goal in the shoot-out.

Harvey Elliott became the youngest player to appear for Liverpool at Anfield and Klopp handed a senior debut to full-back Neco Williams on a night he felt his young charges would never forget.

"What I wished for the boys is that they have a game to remember and that's what happened," the Liverpool boss told Sky Sports.

"A lot of people see the line-up and assume that we don't take the competition seriously but we cannot do it differently - we have to make a lot of changes - but we only make these changes because we trust the boys.

"What they did tonight, how they played, I loved it really."

Klopp picked out Williams for praise after he provided the cross for Divock Origi to score Liverpool's fifth goal and also hailed the performance of 20-year-old goalkeeper Caoimhin Kelleher despite Arsenal beating him five times.

Kelleher saved Dani Ceballos' penalty to ensure Liverpool clinched their place in the quarter-finals, and Klopp waxed lyrical about the importance of "being a hero on a night like tonight".

"Caoimhin, who conceded five, yes, but he is an outstanding talent," he said.

"Neco, crossing for Div [Origi], when three weeks ago he would never have thought he would start.

"Curtis Jones, it was not my decision at the end that he takes the last one. Div and Curtis changed it because when I saw the list the last time Div was taking the last one!

"The boys will remember it forever and that's the best thing you can say about a football game."

Jones replaced Naby Keita who appeared to be clutching his ankle after 55 minutes.

Klopp provided an update on the Guinea international's condition, saying: "If Naby's injury is not so serious, which I hope, then it was a nearly perfect night.

"He felt [his ankle] a little bit. I saw it, he slipped when he lost the ball. He slipped away, I saw him limping afterwards and that's why we did it."

Mohamed Salah is back in the Liverpool starting line-up to take on Genk in the Champions League.

Salah missed out on Sunday's 1-1 Premier League draw against Manchester United due to an ankle injury but returns to complete Jurgen Klopp's familiar front three alongside Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino.

The Egypt star comes in as one of five changes to the XI from Old Trafford, with James Millner in for Trent Alexander-Arnold (virus) at right-back and Dejan Lovren partnering Virgil van Dijk instead of Joel Matip (knee).

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Naby Keita both start in midfield, with Jordan Henderson and Georginio Wijnaldum the men to make way.

It is Oxlade-Chamberlain's first Champions League appearance since suffering a ruptured cruciate ligament against Roma in the 2017-18 semi-final.

Keita's only previous Liverpool start this season came against MK Dons in the EFL Cup last month.

Marcus Rashford's goal in Manchester United's 1-1 draw with Liverpool demonstrated "all the problems with VAR", said Jurgen Klopp.

The England striker put United ahead after 36 minutes of a tightly fought contest at Old Trafford, where Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side brought Liverpool's 17-match Premier League winning streak to an end.

Liverpool appealed for the goal to be ruled out for what they claimed was a foul by Victor Lindelof on Divock Origi before Rashford broke the deadlock, and Klopp insisted after the game that his striker was taken down illegally.

Adam Lallana's 85th-minute equaliser rescued a point for the Premier League leaders, but the draw did not keep Klopp from questioning referee Martin Atkinson's decisions.

"[In the] second half we had good moments," Klopp told Sky Sports. "The first half I did not like.

"We gave United the opportunity to do what they wanted to do, being aggressive and challenges everywhere. It's football, but you have to pass these lines. The opportunities were there.

"They were better in the game than we were. They defended well but at the end United scored a goal which shows all the problems with VAR.

"Mr Atkinson lets the game run because I am sure he thinks VAR will show if there is contact. There is a foul, 100 per cent it is clear it is a foul.

"We cannot change it but in general there is a problem. They still have 60 or 70 yards to run until they scored a goal but still."

The result prevented Liverpool from restoring their eight-point lead over second-place Manchester City, but Klopp praised his side's strong finish to the game.

The Reds were on top in the closing stages and substitutes Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Naby Keita and Lallana earned special praise from their manager.

"The result is OK, it's not what we wanted before the game but the way it developed we have to be happy because United were for a long time 1-0 up," said Klopp.

"Pretty much everything went against us, but we did not lose. We deserved a point. In the last 15 minutes we were in charge of the game.

"They were purely there to defend against us. It's difficult. We should have done much better.

"When Ox came on it was good, Adam came on and helped us a lot, Naby maybe came on a bit late but had influence. Adam scored [and] that is a wonderful story to be honest."

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