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How Liverpool could line up against Manchester United without Sadio Mane |

If attempting to derail an unbeaten, free-scoring Manchester United side who are extremely stingy in defence wasn’t a difficult enough task, Liverpool head into Saturday’s Premier League fixture sans Sadio Mane.

Their reigning Player of the Season – named in the 30-man Ballon d’Or list of nominees on Monday – returned from Senegal duty with a hamstring injury that will sideline him for up to six weeks.

Sadio Mane Mohamed Salah Manchester City Liverpool

With three goals in his four top-flight appearances this term, Jurgen Klopp will not just miss the 25-year-old’s decisiveness in the final third, but his speedy transitions, tirelessness and ability to occupy several markers at once.

So how can the Reds boss counter the loss of a certified game-changer as he prepares to combat Jose Mourinho’s side?

Klopp does have more options to alter things than he did last season when Mane was unavailable through his participation at the Africa Cup of Nations, and later through meniscus damage in his left knee.

HD Jurgen Klopp

Liverpool still possess pace and explosiveness in Mohamed Salah, and £35 million deadline-day signing Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain will have the opportunity to step up and prove he should be a regular starter.

Fellow new acquisition Dominic Solanke has maximised his cameo appearances, and while it would be a surprise if he were to start on Saturday, it would not be unimaginable to see him in a top-flight starting XI soon.

Klopp will hope none of his other returning internationals give him further injury concerns and if everyone else is fully fit, here are a few of the ways he could set Liverpool up against United.

As ever, the competition for the full-back slots – especially on the right – is close.


Philippe Coutinho operated as the left forward to great effect last season, with the freedom to drift inside and be what the manager described as a ‘wing 10.’

Moving the Brazil international into the front three would allow Emre Can to return in midfield, offering more physicality as well as protection in the centre of the park.

However, removing Coutinho from his deeper spot would hamper the quality of supply to the forwards given he is the creator-in-chief.

GFX Liverpool 1


Zero. That would be the number of Premier League games Oxlade-Chamberlain has started for Liverpool since his switch from Arsenal – a statistic he’ll no doubt be desperate to change this weekend. Klopp has said he has a long-term plan for the 24-year-old, and while massive conclusions should rightly not be drawn on his time at Anfield so far, it will be unflattering for the player if he still can’t make the XI following Mane’s injury.

If Klopp opts to push Coutinho into the attack, Oxlade-Chamberlain can have the chance to function in his preferred central midfield role at the expense of the out-of-form Gini Wijnaldum.

“He is a very good football player,” the German said of his final purchase this summer. “He is good in small spaces. Really good in big spaces. A good dribbler. A good passer.”

GFX Liverpool 2


Klopp believes the England international is capable of playing either side of a focal point or in front of the No. 6. There is potential for him to stick with Coutinho in midfield and play Oxlade-Chamberlain in Mane’s position, which would circumvent the loss of the playmaker’s artistry from deep.

‘Ox’ would provide more pace there than the Brazilian, but is unlikely to be as decisive in front of goal.

GFX Liverpool 3


Roberto Firmino’s influence fades out wide, so this isn’t necessarily the most effective option but it allows Daniel Sturridge to get more minutes and more rhythm.

Solanke could also be used as the central point of the attack, while Klopp also has Ben Woodburn to consider, and can also use James Milner in midfield or as a full-back on either flank.

GFX Liverpool 4

There is also the chance to switch formation, with Liverpool using the diamond at the end of last season when Mane was unavailable through injury.

Klopp is not short of options, but losing the Senegal star during such a vital period is still a sizeable setback, especially with Adam Lallana and Nathaniel Clyne still sidelined.

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  • lfc_kentucky

    How about Milner in as rb? Good or bad idea? Nothing against Trent but I wouldn’t mind seeing a more experienced player in this match

    • Abbo Dave

      I’ve been thinking the same. While TAA is a really exciting prospect, he tends to make one or two horrendous mistakes just about every time he plays. Against this Utd. team, we can’t afford those since Utd is quite likely to capitalize on any mistake our defense might make. I say play Milner as RB on Saturday; he’s much less likely to hand a goal or two to Utd and I think his experience and perennially cool head will have a positive effect on Matip and Lovren.

      • lfc_kentucky

        gotta say both fullbacks were terrific against United. Moreno coped with all of the long balls sent his way and Gomez dealt with Martial and Rashford superbly.

  • Vivek Bharos

    I’ll start with this.

    Firmino needs rest and can be brough as sub, Giving Ox a chance at wings.
    Gini is out of form. Milly in place of can

    Oh i miss mane

  • RobbieTheReindeer

    I actually haven’t watched any Manure games this season. But I heard they are playing like turd but getting the rub of the green every time. Are they using a 4231 system?

    • gegenpressing

      Seen most of their games…They aren’t playing like turd..They are playing like a Mourinho team- solid at the back, mostly okay in midfield and capitalizing on their chances up front. They haven’t really looked as good as some of their results suggest (even though they have mostly played the bottom half teams) but the have been compact and given up few chances. They have also shown that they can score in a wide variety of ways- set-piece, counter attacks, goalmouth scrambles, worldies from outside the box which usually bodes well for a team trying to achieve in multiple competitions as you wont be on your best every game. If both teams play to their best, we are much better than them but if both teams play average (which is more likely given that is Mourinho’s MO), they are more likely to win with the odd undeserved goal or defensive blunder….
      Think they have mostly been using a 4-3-3/4-2-3-1 with Matic&Pogba/Fellaini sitting and they keep the defense solid. Herrera likely to come in for Fellaini. Their defense hasn’t really been tested and think they can be got at there but it isn’t easy to isolate the defenders even on a counter as they don’t commit many men forward. He usually plays an attacking winger and a defensive one as well so Martial won’t start with rashford (will be one or the other)…

      • Wow! That’s almost an article 😀

        • gegenpressing

          Lol…it’s what happens when I have free time on my hands…sorry (but not sorry)…

      • RobbieTheReindeer

        I now feel better prepared to watch the match haha thanks 😀

      • lfc_kentucky

        Good summary of united. How do you compare mou’s defensive set up with ours? What I mean is, Jones, smalling, blind, don’t have to be terrific defenders in his system while our cbs routinely get exposed. Our system demands a great deal from the cbs as well as the cms in front of them and yet we have gone into the last two seasons with some deeply flawed players at these positions. It’s a compliment to mou’s system that he can plug in average defenders even though I hate the guy and love Klopp.
        I am not saying I want their style of play, but defensively utd was good last year and this year as well and mourinho teams in general are usually very good defensively. Many lfc fans seem to think we can never be one of the best defensive teams in the league.

    • Delhi Belhi

      They havent been turd at all. You dont win so many games 4-0 being turd. While defensive solidity is expected from a mourinho team, they’ve been great in attack as well. Lukaku is about as good as it gets in the league, rashford and mkhi have had great starts to the season and to make it worse, martial is wreaking havoc on tired defences from the bench. Proper mourinho team.

  • globalcockup

    I have a bad feeling about this.

  • Tbone187

    Time for Sturridge to prove his class I reckon.I’m sure he’d give it his all if given a chance in such a game. 4231 I’d be looking at. Firmino , Couts and Salah just behind him.

    I’m worried bout the wings though. Moreno brainfarts and Trent’s/Gomez’s inexperience may let us down with Martial , Rashford , Mikhi n co.

    I hope we see last season’s Matip to bottle up Lukaku.

    C’mon you bloody red men!! Turn this season around.

  • Brighton Red

    Another view Stan, Mourinho will expect Klopp to attack so what if he were to go against his normal instincts and sit back ?? say he played 3-2-4-1 Gomez, Matip and Lovren at the back with Milner and Henderson sitting in front and a midfield of Robertson, Coutinho, Firmino and TAA with Salah in attack. Say to the back 5 you don’t cross the half way line, put Firmino on Mykhitarian to cut off the supply to Lukaku and have Coutinho use the width of the wing backs and pace of Salah to try and score ~ but the priority is to keep a clean sheet ??

  • Stan Dinaround

    take the game to Utd, start with a 442 diamond and play Solanke and Sturridge up top, Salah as No.10 and coutinho and Firmino as the two just behind… Yeah, its an attacking line up, but you’ve all seen the defensive option.. It doesnt work, so atleast go out with the chance to out score the wankers.. That or fuckin hang up your boots, because you have no clue what to do…

  • he has to start Solanke or Robertson