The Reds were missing Salah, Mane and Firmino due to suspension in their Carabao Cup semi-final second leg against Arsenal. The Gunners came close for a couple of goals but ultimately Liverpool held on for the 2-2 draw that sent them through as 3-1 winners on aggregate.
The “carabao cup schedule” is the second leg of a semi-final match in the Carabao Cup. Liverpool’s recent string of poor performances without their star players, Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane, give Arsenal hope for a comeback.
THE CITY OF LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND — If there was any question about Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane’s value to Liverpool, Takumi Minamino proved it in the 90th minute of the club’s goalless Carabao Cup semifinal first-leg tie against Arsenal at Anfield on Thursday.
Minamino, handed a starting role by manager Jurgen Klopp due to the absences of Salah (Egypt) and Mane (Senegal) on Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) duty, had the opportunity to make himself the match-winning hero by scoring from 10 yards in the final seconds. The former FC Salzburg forward had a clear sight of goal, but with the chance to score and give Liverpool a potentially decisive 1-0 advantage ahead of next Thursday’s second leg at the Emirates (2:30 p.m. ET, stream live on ESPN+), he fired high over the crossbar.
Salah and Mane, who have combined for 33 goals this season, would have pounced on the opportunity, ruthlessly scoring yet another key goal for Klopp’s side. Minamino, on the other hand, isn’t in the same category as Salah or Mane. Neither is Diogo Jota, who, with Liverpool’s two world-class attackers, is a terrific support act but falls well short of filling the vacuum left by their international commitments. Divock Origi has typically been Liverpool’s late super-sub, but the Belgium international is still out with a knee injury, so he won’t be able to replace Salah or Mane.
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At the conclusion of a game against an Arsenal team reduced to ten men for 66 minutes after Granit Xhaka was sent off for a tackle on Jota in the first half, Liverpool had just one shot on target, which came deep into stoppage time from replacement Curtis Jones.
Klopp said, “Any team would miss Salah, Mane, and [Naby] Keita.” “That’s something we’ve known for a long time. We had this squad tonight, and it can obviously play and score.”
With Salah and Mane in the attacking line, it’s hard to believe Liverpool wouldn’t have put this tie out of reach before the halfway mark. While it’s understandable that they aren’t the same force without Salah and Mane, Klopp will be concerned by Liverpool’s ineffectiveness against Arsenal, both now and lack the future.
Only two Premier League games (against Brentford and Crystal Palace) are anticipated to be affected by Salah, Mane, and Keita’s absence during the AFCON (Guinea). If Egypt and Guinea fail to move from the group stage, Salah and Keita might return in time for the Palace match on January 23.
Because all three missed this game and will miss the return leg on Feb. 27, a possible trip to Wembley for a big trophy versus Chelsea on Feb. 27 might be jeopardized.
In the long run, though, it is possible that two players who are out of contract in June 2023 will have to be replaced. They’re both 29, so they have lot to contribute, but if one of them leaves, it’ll be a massive void to replace. It would be devastating if both were lost.
It’s a given that, by the time Salah and Mane return to Liverpool, the squad will have exited the Carabao Cup and their already bleak championship ambitions would have all but vanished.
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THURSDAY, JAN. 13 • Ath Bilbao v Atletico (2 p.m. ET) • Liverpool v Arsenal (2:45 p.m. ET)
FRIDAY, JAN. 14 • Dortmund v Freiburg (2:30 p.m. ET)
“We thrive in the face of adversity,” Arteta added. “The players shown tremendous grit, dedication, and togetherness. You could see our desperation, yet we never gave up. The lads deserve credit.
“I’m not sure whether the red card motivated them, but they won the battle. To play in these sports, you need a particular mentality, and the guys had it. We played the game we had to play, which was not the one we wanted to play.”
In defense, Ben White and Kieran Tierney were standouts, but Bukayo Saka and Gabriel Martinelli’s grit and energy allowed the Gunners to offer a danger on the break. On 72 minutes, Saka had Arsenal’s first clear opportunity to score when his close-range shot was stopped by Alisson when he should have scored after collecting Tierney’s crossfield ball.
Given the difficulties they had to overcome, a 0-0 draw is as good as a victory for Arsenal. If Arteta has really resurrected the club, the players engaged at Anfield will look back on the performance as a watershed point in their careers, demonstrating their ability to be resilient and successful.
They must now capitalize on their success by winning the second leg and advancing to the final. It won’t be easy, but with Salah and Mane still out, Arsenal will be confident in their ability to complete the task.
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