Mark Lawrenson has concerns if Liverpool start two players against Manchester City tomorrow. The Reds have difficult decisions to make.
Liverpool have a depleted squad to say the least. They were without seven first-team players against Brighton in midweek.
Seven. How is any team supposed to handle that? We’re not talking bit-part players here, either. They were without first-choice options in goal, in defence, in midfield and in attack.
Fortunately, a few should make it back to face Manchester City. We’re crossing our fingers for Alisson, Fabinho and Sadio Mane, in particular, to return to action.
And ex-Red Mark Lawrenson believes the latter of the three must play for Liverpool against City. The team just isn’t the same without Mane.
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“The Reds need Mane at the moment more than anyone, because on his day he is just unplayable,” he told the BBC.
“Liverpool don’t press the same without him, and their attack is more pedestrian too. Xherdan Shaqiri or Divock Origi won’t cause City anything like the same sort of problems.”
What RTK has to say
He’s absolutely right. When Diogo Jota is out, Liverpool just don’t have anyone to cover Mane on the left.
The drop-off is enormous, in fact. Shaqiri doesn’t suit the role whatsoever, given he can’t cut inside onto his preferred foot. Playing wide-left forces him down the line and that suits no one.
If he’s taking up that space, what’s Andy Robertson supposed to do?
As for Origi, we just don’t see a place for him. You can actually count his combined number of shots and created chances in the Premier League this season on your hands (seven shots, two created chances).
For comparison, Mane had three shots and nine created chances in one game against Burnley last month.
So yes, it’s hard to disagree with Lawrenson here. Mane has to play if he’s anywhere near full fitness. Liverpool just aren’t the same team when he’s not there.