Jurgen Klopp admits that the absence of Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane is affecting Liverpool, but urged his team to “get through this together”.
Salah and Mane – along with Naby Keita – are currently in the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON), and with the final scheduled for February 6, Liverpool could be without them for several more weeks.
While Liverpool’s first game without the trio was a comfortable FA Cup victory over Premier League side Shrewsbury, the absences of Salah and Mane were evident during the 0-0 draw at home against Arsenal – who played with ten men for the majority of the match – on Thursday.
Speaking ahead of Liverpool’s Premier League game against Brentford on Sunday, Klopp insisted Liverpool should have been able to smash Arsenal even without Salah and Mane, but admitted his side are missing the exorcist duo.
Asked if he had concerns about his team’s chances without the duo, Klopp said: “The only way we can avoid this kind of question is to score.
“The situation is clear: they are not here and they are world-class players. Do we miss them? Yes, but it is not about who is not here, but how we can do better.
“The start was really good, we caused Arsenal a lot of problems, we pressed the right spaces, we created enough and then the red card happened. You have to break a really low block, and that’s the hardest thing. We couldn’t have you not done it last night.
“We weren’t good enough in moments, but we can do better and that’s what we’re going to do.”
Despite facing 10 men for over an hour and nearly 80 per cent of possession against Arsenal, Liverpool managed just one shot on target as the Gunners sat on the field and successfully saved their goal.
This has led to questions about whether Salah and Mane’s pace from the flanks and behind the defenses would be a particularly relevant loss during their time at the Africa Cup of Nations, but Klopp believes those inquiries have missed the mark.
“There is absolutely nothing bad to say about Sadio and Mo,” Klopp said. “Great players. I can say Naby is one of the best midfielders I’ve ever seen. But they’re not here.
“Last night we didn’t miss the pace – that wasn’t our problem. They were so deep, where do we want to run? Over the touchline, in the stands? There was no room.
“There are a lot of things we can do – counter-press, get the ball back – it’s not about speed. We have to play against deep formations, between the lines.
Thinking fast is much more important than running fast. Yes, Mo, Sadio and Nabe can think fast but they are not here.
“It was obvious that we are going to be sitting here today after we drew 0-0 against 10 players and the only thing on your mind is Sadio and Mo. But this is not a solution, it is just part of a problem. We are here to find solutions.
“Last night we weren’t perfect but maybe we’ll be closer to our level in the next game and we can win. We have to go through different periods in one season. This is our period now – let’s beat this together.”
“A big landing without Salah and Mane”
Talking to Sky Sports After Liverpool’s disappointing stalemate with Arsenal, Jamie Carragher claimed that a sharp drop in the match without Salah and Mane would give Liverpool’s next opponent a chance to be optimistic.
“That’s the thing that sets Liverpool apart: they have 13 or 14 great players they can really count on,” said Carragher.
“The great thing about Salah and Mane is not only their ability but the fact that they never get injured. They play every game.
With Brentford at the weekend, the return leg [against Arsenal]And the English Premier League match at (Crystal) Palace, the competitors will look at Liverpool without Salah and Mane and think that there is a big drop.”
Sky Sports analyst Paul Merson added: “The biggest concern tonight is if you’re a Liverpool fan? Salah and Mane. If they play tonight, that’s a different story.”
“You can take players out of Manchester City, and that doesn’t really make a difference. Take players from Chelsea, not really. Take players from Liverpool, it’s completely different.”
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