Jurgen Klopp acknowledged that the absence of Liverpool’s African contingent of stars was certainly felt in the club’s goalless stalemate with Arsenal in the Carabao Cup.
The German was keen to also single out Guinean international Naby Keita, who he described as ‘one of the best midfielders I’ve ever seen’ on his day, as relayed in a tweet by Echo correspondent, Paul Gorst.
Klopp: "There's nothing bad to say about Sadio and Mo. Naby one of the best midfielders I've seen. Last night we didn't miss speed, that was not the problem. They were so deep, so where could we run? We have to build on how we started."
— Paul Gorst (@ptgorst) January 14, 2022
The Merseyside-based outfit nonetheless have it all to play for in the second leg of the cup semi-final at the Emirates Stadium, with Chelsea already confirmed finalists.
That’s not to suggest that our struggles against Mikel Arteta’s men entirely revolved around the unavailability of Mo Salah, Sadio Mane and our No.8, with key injuries across the squad also hardly helping matters.
The continued sidelining of Thiago Alcantara, for instance, has proved to be a source of frustration for fans and commentators alike, with the classy Spaniard’s tone-setting play and eye for the pass an evident miss against Arsenal’s low block.
The more forward-thinking approach often adopted by Keita could have likewise proved pivotal in a game that was crying out for creativity from the middle of the park.
Still, things are from desperate, with us having an opportunity to redeem a dismal outing at Anfield with a performance to remember in London to ensure we join Chelsea at Wembley.