Jurgen Klopp admits that the absence of Muhammad Salah and Sadio Mane affects Liverpool, but urged his side to “do it together”.
Salah and Mane – along with Naby Keita – are currently in the African Cup of Nations (AFCON) and with the final scheduled for February 6, Liverpool could be without them for weeks.
While Liverpool’s first trio-free match was a comfortable FA Cup victory against League One Shrewsbury, the absence of Salah and Mane was clearly felt in a home draw 0-0 against Arsenal, which played most of the match with 10 men. .
Before Sunday’s Liverpool Premier League match against Brentford, Klopp insisted that Liverpool should be able to break the Gunners without Salah and Mane, but admitted that his side lacked a duo of talismans.
Asked if he was worried about his party’s chances without a pair, Klopp said: “The only way we can avoid such questions is to score.
“The situation is clear: they’re not here and they’re world players. We miss them? Yes, but it’s not about who’s here, it’s about how we can improve.”
“The start was really good, we did a lot of problems for Arsenal, we pushed the right spaces, we created enough and then the red card came. You have to break down a really low block, and that’s the hardest thing. We couldn’t do it last night.
“We weren’t good enough at times, but we can be better and that’s what we’ll do.”
Despite the fact that Liverpool faced 10 men for more than an hour and had almost 80 percent possession of the ball against Arsenal, he managed only one shot at the goal when the Gunners sat and successfully defended their goal.
This has led to questions as to whether the speed of Salah and Mane coming from the wings and getting behind the defense would be a particularly significant loss during their time at AFCON, but Klopp believed that these questions were meaningless.
“There’s absolutely nothing wrong with Sadi and Moo,” Klopp said. “Excellent players. I’d say Naby is one of the best midfielders I’ve ever seen. But they’re not here.”
“We didn’t lack speed last night – that wasn’t our problem. Were they that deep where we want to run? Across the side line, into the stands? There was no room.
“There are so many things we can do – counter-pressures, getting the ball back – it’s not about pace. We have to play against deep formations, between the lines.”
“Fast thinking is much more important than running fast. Yes, Mo, Sadio and Naby can think fast, but they’re not here.”
“It was crystal clear that we will be sitting here today after we draw 0-0 against 10 men and the only thing you have in mind is Sadio and Mo. But that’s not the solution, it’s just part of the problem. We’re here to find a solution .
“We weren’t perfect last night, but maybe we’re closer to our usual standard in the next match and we can win. We have to go through different times of the season. This is our time now – let’s get over it together.”
“Big drop without Salah & Mane”
Speak with Sky Sports Jamie Carragher said after Liverpool’s unsatisfactory heel with Arsenal that a drastic loss without Salah and Mane would give Liverpool’s upcoming rivals room for optimism.
“It’s a matter of Liverpool: they had a great 13 or 14 players they can really count on,” Carragher said.
“It’s great not only their abilities and the fact that they’ve never been hurt in Salah and Mane. They play every game.”
“With Brentford over the weekend, revenge [against Arsenal]and at the Premier League match at (Crystal) Palace, the opposition will look to Liverpool without Salah and Mane and will think there is a big drop. “
Sky Sports scientist Paul Merson added: “The biggest concern tonight if I’m a Liverpool fan? Salah and Mane. If they play tonight, it’s a different story.”
“You can take two Manchester City players, it really doesn’t matter. Take two from Chelsea, you really don’t. Take two from Liverpool, it’s completely different.”
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