Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp is edging closer towards working out what his best options are if the squad are to thrive in the absence of big names players such as Virgil van Dijk, Fabinho and Thiago Alcantara.
Despite the growing number of injuries, competition for places is still high and Klopp is having to make some bold choices in the managerial hot-seat.
New signings Thiago, Diogo Jota and Kostas Tsimikas have collectively been limited to just three Premier League starts since their Anfield arrivals which suggest more is still to come from this Liverpool squad.
Against Sheffield United, Klopp decided to alternate to a 4-2-3-1 system that incorporated a greater focus on attack. The tweak saw Liverpool run out 2-1 winners and teased that the Liverpool boss could look repeat such an approach in the upcoming weeks.
Without Van Dijk, who has been Liverpool’s defensive lynchpin for the best part of two seasons, Klopp has to take the pressure off the defence and to do that he needs to make them much more unpredictable.
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Before it was the Dutchman who remained the club’s most durable figure having started 92 consecutive league matches prior to his ACL injury at Goodison Park.
Now that particular mantle has fallen down to two players who occupy much higher positions.
It is remarkable to think that together, Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane have collectively missed just five league matches out of a possible 76.
Salah, in particular, has remained an ever-present member for Klopp since he signed from Roma in 2018. The only PL fixture the Egyptian has missed due to an injury was against Manchester United in October 2019 following an ankle problem.
The irreplaceable Liverpool forward duo have clocked up a combined 186 goals and 77 assists during their time together at Anfield which is nothing shy of an extraordinary feat.
It has been important that during Liverpool’s hour of need following catastrophic injury setbacks that Mane and Salah maintain their devastating standards to keep the team in the hunt for the title.
Both players have hit the ground running this season, clocking up 10 goals in the league (Salah six, Mane four) and it will be Liverpool’s ability to outscore opponents which will prove crucial if the team are to cope without Van Dijk, who is expected to miss the rest of the season.
Liverpool are slowly building a new core which has been born from the arrival of both Thiago and Jota, but Mane and Salah’s places in the team are still unquestionable.
The likes of Georginio Wijnaldum and Firmino were part of the team’s spine a year ago but now their places are under threat.
Klopp is set to show loyalty towards those who continue to seize their opportunities although the likes of Salah and Mane continuity remain undroppable prospects.
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