The 3-1 victory over Everton was a pleasing result and one which was enjoyed by the players and fans alike. However, one incident overshadowed the win and that was the injury to Sadio Mane.
Having given the Reds an early lead over their local rivals, Mane looked in fine form. His dribble and finish, which left three Everton players in his wake, was a great example of what the Senegalese forward can do to teams. He is the sort of player who can open tight defences with his dribbling, pace and ability to finish.
Mane also scored the winner late in the game at Goodison Park earlier in the season and was proving to be the man of the moment as far as the Merseyside Derby was concerned. The injury suffered by Mane came in the second half of the game and Jurgen Klopp was forced to take him off and replace him with Divock Origi on 57 minutes. Thankfully the Belgian striker made an impact, scoring the third goal which sealed the points for Liverpool but the word coming out of the dressing room was the injury looked bad for Mane.
With Adam Lallana also injured, Liverpool cannot afford to lose another of their top creative players. Speaking ahead of the mid-week clash with Bournemouth, Klopp admitted the knee injury did not look good and there was a possibility Liverpool could be without the player for the remainder of the season. The German also mentioned that Mane would go for a scan on the injury and they may then have a better idea of just how long he will be missing.
Injuries have cost Liverpool at times this season and the injuries to Lallana and Mane have come at a crucial time in the campaign. Other players have also had spells out this season, including Philippe Coutinho and a good summer transfer window is a must for next season.
Looking at the current fixture list and Liverpool have what appears to be the easiest run-in of all the teams competing to finish in the top four this season. The Reds do not have to play any of the teams currently sitting in the top seven places in the Premier League and in most cases, a series of fixtures like this would be celebrated. Unfortunately for Liverpool, it’s not the top seven teams which have proved difficult to play against this season, it has been the teams lower down the league. The teams Liverpool must face until the end of the season.
One player you would like to have in your team when attempting to break down a stubborn defence is Sadio Mane. This season in the Premier League, Mane has directly contributed to 18 goals scored by Liverpool, 13 of which he has scored himself and 5 of which he has assisted. That means in 26 Premier League starts this season, Mane has on average, contributed directly to a goal being scored in 0.69 of them, which is a very good return.
The question is, who can come in and replace a player who has contributed so well in the Premier League this season? Daniel Sturridge is available for selection against Bournemouth by Klopp clearly does not fancy the England international and he will probably have to settle for a place on the bench. Sturridge is a player who will surely be looking at moving come the end of the current campaign.
With Lallana also missing, Divock Origi could be given an extended run in the team in Mane’s absence. In 7 starts this season, the young striker has scored 3 goals and has contributed 2 goals when coming off the bench, something he has done 21 times in total this season. It’s hardly a record which is going to put the fear into opposition defenders for the remainder of the season and its clear he is not a direct replacement for what Mane offers the team.
Origi recently spoke about being frustrated at Liverpool because he has not been starting matches but now could be the time for him to establish himself in the Liverpool team. He has huge boots to fill, as Mane is Liverpool’s top goal scorer this season and has scored more match winning goals than any other player.
The good news is Origi has already found the back of the net against Bournemouth, Middlesbrough and West Ham this season, all teams in the bottom half of the Premier League table. Perhaps having a main central striker in the team will help when attempting to break down sides who are happy to sit deep and defend.
However, it is difficult to gloss over the loss of Sadio Mane, a player who brings a unique presence to the Liverpool team and most importantly, goals.