Salah’s AFCON Departure: Liverpool’s Tactical Test

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Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah now heads to AFCON – How do you replace the Egyptian King?

How do you attempt to replace the irreplaceable? This is the conundrum Liverpool faces as Mohamed Salah, their Egyptian talisman, prepares for the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON). The departure of Salah, as articulated by James Pearce in The Athletic, poses a significant challenge for Jurgen Klopp’s side, which currently leads the Premier League.

Salah’s Unparalleled Influence

Salah’s influence at Liverpool is nothing short of extraordinary. With 22 goal involvements in 20 Premier League matches this season, he’s a pivotal figure in Liverpool’s quest for glory. His recent performance against Newcastle United, where he scored twice and assisted another in a 4-2 victory, is a testament to his significance.

James Pearce rightly notes, “Mo is a goalscoring machine. He never stops doing these things. He is extremely special.” This sentiment was echoed by Klopp himself, highlighting Salah’s unique attributes.

The Challenge Ahead for Klopp

Liverpool’s reliance on Salah’s skills is evident. He has either scored or assisted 51 percent of Liverpool’s 43 league goals this season. His absence, therefore, raises concerns, especially as Pearce points out, “If he leads Egypt to the final on February 11, he could miss eight club matches in three competitions.” This period includes critical fixtures in the FA Cup, Carabao Cup, and Premier League.

Filling the Void

Attempting to fill Salah’s shoes will be no easy feat. Options include Harvey Elliott, who has shown promise in this role, and the versatile Diogo Jota. However, the team will need to collectively step up in Salah’s absence to maintain their momentum.

Image: IMAGO

Collective Effort Required

Liverpool’s attacking fluency remains a positive sign. Their game against Newcastle demonstrated their capacity to create opportunities, a trait that will be crucial in the coming weeks. Players like Luis Diaz and Darwin Nunez will need to elevate their performances to compensate for Salah’s absence.

“The other boots I missed the pen with, I just trained with yesterday,” Salah quipped about his penalty miss against Newcastle, showing his focus on performance. This attitude is something the entire team will need to emulate.

Photo: IMAGO

Strategic Adjustments

Klopp’s tactical acumen will be tested during this period. Adjusting the team’s play to suit the strengths of available players will be key. As Pearce states, “Trying to fill that gaping hole wide on the right and maintain Liverpool’s place at the Premier League summit until Salah’s return is the mission now facing Klopp.”

Liverpool’s strength has always been more than just one player, even one as influential as Salah. As the team navigate this challenging period, their depth, adaptability, and collective spirit will be under the spotlight. It’s a true test of their championship mettle.

As we eagerly await Salah’s return, Liverpool’s response to this challenge will be a defining moment in their season. Klopp and his squad have the tools and the talent; it’s now about application and resilience.

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