Mane in the middle
With Fantasy managers trying to find marginal gains wherever they can, Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has opened up the possibility of seeing one of his high-priced midfielders played in a central striking role.
The FA Cup 3rd round tie between Liverpool and Aston Villa’s youth side, the West Midlands club needing to field an inexperienced squad due to a Covid-19 outbreak in the senior team, the Senegalese winger was played in a central striking position with Takumi Minamino and Mohamed Salah either side.
Klopp explained why he decided this and open up the door to possible further chances for Mane in the middle in the future.
“Taki played…We prepared for the Aston Villa first team and we wanted Sadio much more keeping the centre-halves together, being a threat in behind the last line and using Taki to defend offensively between the lines,” he said.
“It was slightly on the left side, that’s all. But obviously today they had to change. Sadio can play that position but Taki can play the other position as well.
“There is no big change for him, he’s just an offensive player and can move about and is comfortable in areas.”
Although Roberto Firmino has turned his form this season and scored a number of goals, Liverpool have struggled in the league to put away matches and have now failed to win their last 3 league matches. Could the Mane experiment be one to try in the Premier League?
Thiago fully recovered
Good news for Jurgen Klopp was the return of Thiago Alcantara. The Spanish midfielder has faced several problems this season including injury and Covid-19 isolation. However it now appears that he is back to full fitness of ready to help contribute with Liverpool’s title push this campaign.
Klopp decided to give him 45 minutes and his introduction was a catalyst for a scoring glut in the second half.
“Hendo and Thiago, it was clear before the game that we do it like this for 45 and 45,” Klopp said. “There is no [injury] problem and no, we had no reservations.
“We had our test results and they came back yesterday, so everyone was negative and what they did was right with their Under-23s. I think they got tested and got the results at 10 o’clock when we were in the car park at the airport and so everything is fine.”
Whoever the German coach decides to field in his next match he needs to get it right. Manchester United could be 3 points ahead of them by the time the pair face each other next weekend and Liverpool will be in desperate need to beat their northwest rivals in their chase for a second successive title.