Saido Mane: Why His AFCON Absence Will Be A Blow To Liverpool’s Title Chances

Liverpool have had a great start to the season complemented by their free-flowing attacking football they have been playing under Klopp, which has enabled them to rack up scores that would even make live cricket betting sites go nuts.

A lot of players who usually are very inconsistent for them, for example Philippe Coutinho, have now come to the forefront this season and are starting to influence games on a regular basis.

For me Liverpool will definitely be thereabouts at the end of the season, but whether they will win the league or not is another matter.


Why they will fall short

There are a couple of reasons why I think they’ll fall short.

One. I feel they lack a plan B when they are not at full strength.

For example when Saido Mane (a key player for them this season) was injured against Burnley, they looked lost at what their game plan was and eventually were defeated 2-0 by the promoted team.

I also am not convinced on their goalkeeper situation. To be honest, I haven’t been convinced since the likes of Dudek and Reina 8-9 years ago.

Both Karius and Mignolet look like great shot stoppers however, the same banana slip keeps appearing with Liverpool’s keepers; they can’t make a decision.

They play it short when they should hit it long; they come out to punch when they should stay on their line. It just seems like the same old story.

Apart from those points, the Reds look as good as I’ve seen them since Suarez, Sturridge and Sterling helped them to finish 2nd in 2013-14.


Main concern

My main concern with Liverpool is the absence of Mane when he goes to represent Senegal in the African Cup of Nations in January.

As I mentioned earlier he has been an integral element to Liverpool’s attacking play this year scoring 6 goals in 10 starts for the current Premier League leaders.

The AFCON has hindered teams before were the likes of top premier league players: Yaya Toure, Drogba, Kalou were absent for their clubs.

I love the competition myself however it can interrupt the momentum teams have built up in the first three months of the competitive season.


A plan B is needed

Luckily, for my sake, and many other Arsenal and Manchester City fans, Nigeria haven’t qualified for the competition, so Alex Iwobi and Kelechi Ihenacho will remain with their respective clubs.

I believe Klopp needs to start planning what he is going to do as a plan B, maybe incorporating Origi into the squad but whatever he does do, it is more than likely that it will disrupt Liverpool’s’ flow as an attacking force which will be good news for the other title challengers this season.


Written by Toyin Osibowale

Follow Toyin on Twitter @ToyTweets_

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