Salah absence causing Mo problems for Klopp
Liverpool are lacking attacking options — and they will have to find in-house solutions to keep their season on track.
Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane’s Africa Cup of Nations involvement has left the Reds short of forwards for potentially their next four games.
Diogo Jota remains but for the next few weeks Jurgen Klopp may have to rely on the unfamiliar combination of Roberto Firmino alongside the Portuguese.
Ahead of today’s Premier League clash at home to Brentford, we look at how Jota and Firmino can fill the void left by the absent stars.
Making up the numbers
Between them, Salah and Mane have accounted for 24 of Liverpool’s 52 Premier League goals this season — just over 46%.
That is a lot of firepower to be without, even for a short time.
We should also consider the loss of creativity. Along with Trent Alexander-Arnold, Salah has provided a joint-high nine assists for the Merseysiders, as well as creating a joint-high 11 big chances.
Dio-go to the left
While he has played predominantly through the middle with Mane and Salah either side of him, Jota can operate as a left winger — from where he can cut inside onto his stronger right foot.
And it looks like being his role in this temporary front three, with Firmino taking up the centre-forward position that was very much his before Jota’s arrival from Wolves in the summer of 2020.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain feels like the most probable option to slot in on the right, so Firmino should receive plenty of good service.
Salah’s scintillating form this campaign has rightly seen him labelled the best player in the world right now by many — so Jota has some seriously big boots to fill.
But the need to step up should not phase the 25-year-old — who has not looked back since opening his Liverpool account on his league debut in a 3-1 win over Arsenal.
The Porto native has gone on to find the net 25 times in 55 appearances across all competitions, averaging a Premier League goal roughly once every 131 minutes.
Time for Bobby to dazzle
Firmino may not be a Reds regular these days — he has made only seven starts in league and cup competitions this term — but the Brazilian still has goals in him.
He proved as much in Liverpool’s 5-0 thrashing of Watford in October. Salah’s goal-of-the-season contender stole the show at Vicarage Road but Firmino bagged his second hat-trick for the club.
The 30-year-old also got on the scoresheet as Liverpool beat Shrewsbury 4-1 in the third round of the FA Cup last Sunday, raising hopes that he will find his goalscoring touch in the weeks ahead.
Regardless of how exactly Liverpool fill the Salah and Mane-shaped void, Klopp has previously sounded positive about dealing with those significant absences.
Speaking before Christmas, he said: "Can you be prepared properly, perfectly? Like a one-for-one replacement for Sadio, a replacement for Mo?
"That’s tricky in each situation but I am happy with the squad and we have options to play and still to play football.
"We are quite confident we will find solutions.
"Can we play exactly the same kind of football? Probably not — but who cares? Then we play the football we are able to play then.
"You cannot always have the perfect solution. In this case we are far away from being the perfect solution without these players but we knew it and now we have to deal with it."
The Reds' blunt Carabao Cup display against 10-man Arsenal on Thursday was an unconvincing start to life withouth their main men.
But Liverpool’s deputising attackers will be desperate to make amends and prove a point at Anfield this afternoon.
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