In a shocking turn of events, Liverpool’s Sadio Mané will be out of action for the next 6 weeks. The winger picked up a hamstring injury while on international duty for Senegal. The 25-year-old was substituted in the 88th minute in Senegal’s 2-0 win over Cape Verde. The West African country qualified for the World Cup with that win, so the injury doesn’t affect them, but for Liverpool, it’s a whole different story.
The injury could not come at a worse time for Liverpool, as they welcome the formidable Manchester United to Anfield on Saturday. The task was already difficult; now it’s become near impossible without their star attacker.
The Senegalese international has scored 3 goals in 5 Premier League appearances. His presence is influential for the implementation of Klopp’s high-octane football. With Adam Lallana not scheduled to return anytime soon, Liverpool are starved of attacking options at the moment.
But here’s how the Reds could line up without Sadio Mané.
Start Daniel Sturridge
For a man that’s scored 61 goals for the Reds, it’s a mystery as to why the 28-year-old is not shown more respect at Anfield. The Englishman is versatile, pacey, skilful and composed in front of goal when fit he’s an asset most teams in the world would love to have. As Klopp clearly favours Roberto Firmino through the middle, Sturridge would be deployed on either one of the flanks.
In my opinion, Daniel Sturridge should be deployed on the right, thus acting as an inside forward as he cuts in to link up with others. Mohammed Salah could then be the out and out winger in the front three that supplies the two strikers in Firmino and Sturridge. With Philippe Coutinho playing as the most advanced midfielder, an intricate play would then be enabled. Such a chemistry would certainly make up for the loss of Sadio Mané’s attacking threat.
Play a diamond 4-1-2-1-2
Sometimes the only way to supplement the impact of a player like Sadio Mané is to change the whole system entirely. A dynamic front three in attack can only be rivalled by a fluid diamond set up. A front two of Mohammed Salah and Roberto Firmino gives Liverpool the option of either playing narrow or wide at their choosing.
It also gives the Reds more attacking freedom in the midfield as they can now commit more players to attack. Phillippe Coutinho as the no.10 behind the front two also gives the Reds more control in the middle, allowing them to overload the opposing team’s centre-backs.
This formation also gives Liverpool a sense of tactical versatility that could throw off their upcoming fixtures. Teams spend their whole week preparing for each other, and this tactical bomb from Klopp could be the difference between 0 and 3 points.
José Mourinho’s Manchester United side will be ecstatic that they don’t need to face the exploits of Sadio Mané on Saturday. However, Liverpool can rest assured knowing that they have other options at their disposable that could still hurt the Manchester side. Come 11:45 am on Saturday, we’ll see what Jürgen Klopp has done to compensate the loss of Sadio Mané.