Klopp urges Liverpool players to step up and score Mané and Salah

Jürgen Klopp has urged Liverpool to summon the spirit of their glorious comeback against Barcelona to score goals in the absence of Sadio Mané and Mohamed Salah, the Premier League’s top scorer.

Liverpool, who mustered a solitary shot on target in their Carabao Cup stalemate with 10-man Arsenal on Thursday, will play a first league game without either forward since the Egyptian’s 2017 arrival against Brentford on Sunday.

Naby Keïta, Mané and Salah, who are at the African Cup of Nations, are responsible for half of their 52 top-flight goals, but while Takumi Minamino spurned a golden chance against Arsenal, Klopp believes the responsibility to find the net does not just lie with their direct replacements as he called for everyone else to chip in and compensate for the absences.

He drew inspiration from their recent past and three wins when one or more of his usual front three was missing. Divock Origi and Gini Wijnaldum shared the goals in 2019’s 4-0 Champions League semi-final thrashing of Barcelona, when they overturned a 3-0 first-leg deficit, and Klopp said: “We played one of the biggest games in our history here without Bobby [Roberto Firmino] and Mo.”

Liverpool also registered their record away league victory, 7-0 at Selhurst Park in 2020, when Salah began on the bench and their biggest win at Old Trafford, 5-0 in October, when Mané was confined to an irrelevant 14-minute cameo. “We got a result at Crystal Palace and Mo didn’t start,” he said.

“We won at Manchester United and Sadio didn’t start. Now both are out and that’s not cool but it’s not like: ‘You have to be like him.’ We have to find solutions, which we always do, not constantly talk about problems. It is about playing football. It doesn’t depend on who is playing, it is always about how you are playing. Everybody can step up. Everybody is absolutely invited to score a goal. We have to go through this period and make the best of it.”

Without Salah and Mané, Diogo Jota and Firmino are the only Liverpool players with more than two league goals. Firmino’s four all came against promoted clubs, which may bode badly for Brentford, but he has not scored in the top flight at Anfield since 2020 as he has sacrificed himself to help his fellow forwards.

Klopp denied the Brazilian has to be more selfish now. “Bobby doesn’t have to change,” he said. “Bobby is a very smart player and it is about using your teammates in the way you can use them.”

There may be an added opportunity for Curtis Jones, who was a bright substitute against Arsenal but who has scored only two league goals ever. The versatile Liverpudlian’s career has stalled in a stop-start season when he has had a freak eye injury and Covid, and a concerned Klopp has met with Jones in a bid to help him kick on.

“I had a long talk last week with Curtis,” he said. “He has had a tricky time. You have these kind of conversations when you are not 100% happy with the moment but he’s very young. I love the boy and his potential is incredible, so we have to find a way to show that much more often. We have to really make the next steps and make sure he fulfils the potential he has.”

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