In the Merseyside Derby that took place in March, Liverpool star Sadio Mane was injured. The Senegalese international will be out of action for the rest of the season following surgery on his knee to repair damaged cartilage.
Mane will be a huge loss for Liverpool as they battle for a top-four finish.
Sadio Mane has been Liverpool’s best player this season, scoring 13 goals and assisting five in 27 domestic appearances. In the five matches Mane has missed for the Reds this season, Liverpool have won once, drawn twice and lost twice, a disappointing five points from a possible 15.
The 25-year-old has been involved in 18 of Liverpool’s 68 goals, indicating there are other capable goal scorers in the side, but Liverpool scored just seven goals in the five matches Mane has missed.
Not only is Mane the club’s top scorer, he has produced only two fewer assists than assists leader Adam Lallana (7). All three of the defeats Liverpool endured with Mane in the side were away defeats to Hull City, Bournemouth and Leicester City. The Reds are undefeated at Anfield whenever Mane has played.
The pace of Mane is something else Liverpool will be missing. Last season pace was something Liverpool lacked, so in matches they often struggled to break away fast enough simply because they didn’t have a player with blistering pace to aid attacks.
In the 4-3 win over Arsenal in match-week one, it was clear the pace of Mane was something the Reds had been missing. The forward’s speedy run down the right flank before firing an emphatic finish in the top corner was outstanding. The addition of pace in Liverpool’s final third has been essential for its performances this season.
Mane’s pace aids in providing more space and width, particularly in quick transitions which has been a highlight of Liverpool’s performances this season.
Jurgen Klopp altered his side’s formation in the match against Stoke City last week to a 3-4-2-1 with Nathaniel Clyne and Trent Alexander-Arnold providing width and pace. Philippe Coutinho and Roberto Firmino came on for the second half which bolstered Liverpool’s performance in the second half.
But it wasn’t just the introduction of the Brazilians that made the difference, when Daniel Sturridge entered the fray his energy instantly lifted the Reds spirit and the Englishman produced an excellent through ball that lead to the Coutinho equaliser.
How will the Mane void be filled by Liverpool in the remaining six matches? Coutinho and Roberto rescued the Reds from off the bench away to Stoke but Liverpool can’t rely on the pair to do that every match.
The 17-year-old Ben Woodburn started against Stoke before being replaced by Coutinho at half time. The Merseyside outfit are also significantly thin on depth right now with Jordan Henderson and Lallana ruled out of the next two matches against West Brom and Crystal Palace; sides Liverpool have struggled against in recent meetings.
The onus of creating chances and providing sparks in matches rest heavily on a certain Brazilian duo’s shoulders. Divock Origi has stepped up in moments this season, particularly against Sunderland in the 2-0 victory in November and most recently Everton.
The Belgian has six goals and three assist in nine starts. The 21-year-old has two goals and two assists in his last 297 minutes of football, he could be key in the Anfield outfits fight for a Champions League spot.
Sadio Mane is a big loss but the Reds still possess quality players that can claim a top-four finish despite a lack of depth.