Paul Robinson has suggested that Liverpool’s season could hinge upon how well the Reds adapt to losing Sadio Mane and Mo Salah to the African Cup of Nations in January.
Jurgen Klopp’s backup options, barring Diogo Jota, have come under criticism, with the club failing to add any further cover to the forward line despite early expectations at the start of the transfer window.
“I think Liverpool can challenge but they have to keep key players fit,” the former England No.1 told Football Insider.
“No one is talking about this, the big problem Liverpool have is their strikers.
“When the Africa Cup of Nations starts they are going to lose Sadio Mane and Mo Salah.
“They will lose them for about a month so that time will be really important for Liverpool.
“They lose two of their front three, yes Jota comes in for one of them but they have lost Shaqiri.
“Does Origi come in for those games. Do you change formation? That will be the hardest point in Liverpool’s season.”
Both Divock Origi and former star Xherdan Shaqiri both failed to register a league goal in the 2020/21 campaign, raising a potential concern over the course of the term.
Losing both Mane and Salah to international commitments for even two games could prove to be hugely damaging for our title hopes.
It rather depends, of course, on the tactical adaptation Klopp utilises to get the most out of his squad in January, not to mention the contributions the likes of Origi and Takumi Minamino can provide.
The former has previously stepped up in big games for us when required – most notably in our last Champions League-winning campaign – though, at the moment, the Japanese international seems the more likely candidate of the two to make a difference.