Jurgen Klopp Reveals What He Thinks About Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane Liverpool Absence

© AP Photo / Jason CairnduffLiverpool's manager Jurgen Klopp congratulates Sadio Mane following the English Premier League soccer match between Wolverhampton Wanderers and Liverpool at Molineux Stadium in Wolverhampton, England, Monday, March. 15, 2021
Liverpool's manager Jurgen Klopp congratulates Sadio Mane following the English Premier League soccer match between Wolverhampton Wanderers and Liverpool at Molineux Stadium in Wolverhampton, England, Monday, March. 15, 2021 - Sputnik International, 1920, 14.01.2022
Liverpool FC are without their two star attackers, Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane, due to their participation in the African Cup of Nations. Following the side’s lackluster attacking display against a 10-man Arsenal, Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp fielded questions over how they will fare without their two stalwarts.
Klopp was frank with reporters at a Friday news conference. When asked if he was concerned about Liverpool’s attack following a 0-0 draw with Arsenal in the Carabao Cup, Klopp said, “The only way we can avoid these kind of questions is by scoring.”
"The situation is clear. They are not here and they are world-class players. Do we miss them? Yes, but it's not about who is not here, but about 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,” Klopp told reporters.
Throughout Klopp’s Liverpool tenure, even with Mane and Salah, his sides have struggled to break down low defensive blocks. Arsenal picking up a red card in the 24th minute saw them retreat into a defensive shell that Liverpool were unable to unlock.
"You have to break down a really low block, and that's the most difficult thing. We couldn't do that last night, we were not good enough in moments. But we can do better and that's what we will do," Klopp told reporters.
Klopp spoke of the importance and influence of Mane and Salah, "There's absolutely nothing bad to say about Sadio and Mo." He added, "Outstanding players. Naby [Keita] I would say is one of the best midfielders I ever saw. But they are not here.”
Naby Keita is also at the African Cup of Nations, representing Guinea. He has only played 527 Premier League minutes due to injuries, but his two league goals are tied for the most from a non-attacker.
Klopp seemed to be expecting the line of questioning following his team’s uninspired draw.
"Quick thinking is much more important than quick running. Yes, Mo, Sadio and Naby can think quick but they are not here. It was crystal clear that we would sit here today after we draw 0-0 against 10 men and the only thing you would have in your mind is Sadio and Mo,” he said.
With both Mane and Salah out for the rest of January and into early February, Liverpool cannot let the absence of the two be an excuse for a lack of attacking output, according to Klopp.
"But that's not a solution, it's only part of a problem. We are here to find solutions. Last night we were not perfect but maybe we are closer to our usual standard in the next game and we can win. We have to get through different periods in a season. This is our period now -- let's get through this together."
No team can completely replace players of Mane and Salah’s quality. Since joining Liverpool, Mane has chipped in 82 goals and 28 assists in 182 Premier League appearances, while Salah has produced 111 goals and 42 assists in 165 Premier League appearances.
The pair have combined to average 1.22 goals per 90 minutes, to go along with 0.44 assists. While Liverpool will find it difficult to replace that level of production, they do have the quality to prevent an injurious drop-off.
Diogo Jota has been excellent as Liverpool’s center forward and has the dribbling ability and pace to effectively replace either Mane or Salah on the wing. His 10 goals are second on the team this season to Salah’s 16, and his expected goals of 10.6 indicate his production isn’t a mirage.
Roberto Firmino, who has seen his role reduced this season due to injury and Jota’s excellence, will be given an extended run to remind the Premier League of his quality. In only 440 minutes, he has netted 4 goals and 2 assists. Once again, his expected goal total of 4.0 suggests his scoring output is sustainable.
Jurgen Klopp knows goals will be more difficult to come by without Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane, but with Diogo Jota and Roberto Firmino still at Anfield, the solution to their problem remains, thankfully, in-house.
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