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What Could Jurgen Klopp Do With Liverpool’s System Whilst Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah Are Gone?

AFCON is a brilliant tournament which showcases the pure talent that the continent of Africa has to showcase to the footballing world.

However it comes at not the greatest of times for clubs who have some of their best players from the continent as they will be missing for several games at a potentially crucial period.

Liverpool lose three players and two of them are their main men up top with Sadio Mane representing Senegal and Mohamed Salah representing Egypt.

Naby Keita will also be missing as he will be captaining Guinea who are in the same group as Senegal.

Mohamed Salah Sadio Mane Naby Keita

Salah, Mane, Keita and Minamino

It is sure to be a captivating watch but it leaves Jurgen Klopp in a little bit of a situation, so what could he do without some of his most important players?

Option 1- Keep the same system

The famous 4-3-3, the core to the success that Klopp has had. However it is key for the wide players to be classical wingers with an eye for goal, hence why Mane and especially Salah this season have been remarkable. 

Without the pair Liverpool do seem to have a lack of wingers so the formation may not be at its best. 

Diogo Jota was signed as a winger but has very much changed roles, playing as the striker 20 times this season where has scored ten of his 12 goals. 

Of course he can play on the wing and will probably be on the flanks whilst Salah and Mane are away but his poacher like instincts may be needed down the middle instead. 

Other than Jota Liverpool's natural attacking options are Roberto Firmino, Divock Origi, Takumi Minamino.

Roberto Firmino's best position is of course down the middle in the false nine role which he has made his own down the years so it would be a big surprise to see him on the wing.

Divock Origi's best role is definitely as the main man through the centre however he has played on either wing 40 times throughout his time at Liverpool with Klopp at times preferring him on the left rather than in the centre.

Divock Origi Takumi Minamino

Origi and Minamino in the League Cup this season.

Minamino has played on the wing for the majority of his career but he is not what you would call a typical winger due to his lack of raw speed.

In his career he has played on the left wing 100 times, the right wing 56 times and as a centre forward 57 times which portrays his versatility.

So the Japanese international could very well be on the wing however Klopp may have to adjust the style if he keeps the same 4-3-3 system to get the most out of Minamino's smart play as he is of course a very different player to Mane.

He has showed this season that he is capable in that role with the best example coming against Leicester City in the League Cup as he got an assist and the last minute equaliser.

As well as these four specific players who would be classed as 'attackers' Curtis Jones and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain are capable of playing in those forward roles however that may leave the midfield short on numbers.

So a classic front three system with any of Jota, Firmino, Origi and Minamino may be the way Klopp goes with all of them able to switch positions in that frontline if needed.

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Option 2- The Classy Diamond

Liverpool's full-back's have provided the width for the attacking play for many years even if Alexander-Arnold's role has evolved a little bit this season with him being narrower at times.

Everyone knows that when the diamond system is used it can reduce the width hence why the full-back's become so important when that specific formation is used.

Andy Robertson and Trent Alexander-Arnold are more than capable as we have seen to carry the width and creativity so that would not be a problem.

Klopp has used the diamond on several occasions with it being used last season to help Liverpool end their poor form.

Xherdan Shaqiri was used in the number '10' role and was effective.

Another well-known time he used it was in the 2016/17 season in a must-win game in the race for top four against West Ham.

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Daniel Sturridge played upfront alongside Origi with Philippe Coutinho, who is set to join Aston Villa, in a deeper position, it was a masterstroke by Klopp and it fired The Reds to a 4-0 victory at the London Stadium.

If he used it now he could have Jota alongside Origi with Firmino sitting behind them, it also open up the option of having Oxlade-Chamberlain, Minamino or Jones in the 10 role behind the front men. 

Also Harvey Elliott is likely to be back from injury in the coming weeks however it may be too soon for him.

It could be some great fun with Thiago making things happen from deep.

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Option 3- The not so boring 4-4-2

It is classed as an old fashioned, outdated system but when Klopp has used it that is not the case.

For Klopp it is an all out attack method but with a strong central midfield which helps the defence out.

In the past it has been used with Salah and Mane upfront alongside each other and it worked superbly well with counter-attacks being blistering.

Also it has been used in massive games before.

Last season away at the Etihad Klopp used it to accommodate Jota with the famous front three and the football was exciting to say the least.

The only issue with using it whilst AFCON is happening would be the options would be limited on the bench if all four attackers were used at once but we could see a midfield two of Fabinho and Thiago which everyone wants to see.

Plus the wingers could find themselves too narrow making it more of a 4-2-2-2 which has had some issues under Ralf Rangnick at Manchester United.

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Option 4- Run it back!

Remember Jurgen Klopp's very first half a season in charge. Liverpool stormed to a League Cup final and a Europa League final thanks to a system which had one man spearheading it.

That man was Divock Origi.

Divock Origi Mohamed Salah

Origi celebrating his last minute winner against Wolves

He was leading the way in a 4-2-3-1 formation which brought the exhilarating atmosphere back to Anfield thanks to the dramatic football that Klopp had introduced to all Liverpool supporters. 

All of those famous nights at Anfield in the Europa League which were just a teaser of what was eventually to come, came through that 4-2-3-1 formation.

So why would Klopp not bring it back to those old days which were amazingly six years ago now.

Also Origi has been in fine form when on the pitch this season with seven goal contributions in only ten games.

It has also been used at other times as well with the coaching staff deeming it appropriate it use when Fabinho first joined the club to help him settle in.

It was also Klopp's go to formation whilst he was at Borussia Dortmund so if he was going to change it up it would be no surprise to see this system used.

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My verdict

I would personally love to see Klopp go back to the 4-2-3-1 so the front four that would be used could prove their worth. 

Firmino would be pulling the strings in the middle with Jota and Minamino close to link up with. 

Then to have Origi as the main man, the main figure to rely upon as he is the proper striker within that four I think would be seriously exciting as I believe if he was a consistent starter he would hit double figures every season and he certainly loves having the pressure on him plus he has been lethal so far this campaign.


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