Senior player not pulling his weight: Three things we learned about Liverpool in loss to Southampton
By Dominic Toner
Football Insider analyses three talking points from Liverpool’s 1-0 defeat against Southampton in the EFL Cup semi-final first leg on Wednesday night.
Klavan not pulling his weight
Liverpool centre-back Ragnar Klavan delivered a poor performance in the EFL Cup against Southampton. The 31-year-old has been a regular feature in the starting line-up following an ankle injury to Joel Matip and has looked solid for the most part. However, he struggled against the Saints and made a costly error in the build up to their opening goal. The Estonian sliced his attempted clearance and Nathan Redmond went on to score in the first-half. He is likely to be replaced by Matip in the starting XI when he returns to full fitness as he looks vulnerable to a mistake.
Mane leaves Liverpool
Liverpool’s result against Southampton proved that they will sorely miss Sadio Mane. The 24-year-old is currently away with Senegal at the Africa Cup of Nations and Jurgen Klopp will have to manage without the attacker. Mane has been in sensational form since he moved to Anfield in the summer, scoring nine goals and supplying seven assists in 21 appearances. Liverpool will obviously miss his goal contribution during his absence, but it’s his style of play that is the biggest blow. The winger is blessed with phenomenal pace and gives a different option to the lies of the technically gifted Philippe Coutinho, Roberto Firmino and Adam Lallana. The Merseyside club have relied on Mane’s direct approach during much of this season, but will have to find a plan B without him.
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Number one jersey still up for grabs
Loris Karius put some pressure on team-mate Simon Mignolet for the number one jersey with his performance against Southampton. Jurgen Klopp has alternated between the two goalkeepers this season, with Mignolet the current number one option. However, Karius reminded people of his qualities in the defeat against the Saints. The 23-year-old made a couple of top quality saves in the first-half as Nathan Redmond was allowed two efforts inside the penalty area. Karius has proven that he is a good shot stopper and just needs to improve his handling to be a regular in the Premier League. Mignolet has always had his critics at Anfield and it wouldn’t be a surprise if Klopp changes his mind on his number one goalkeeper again before the end of the season.
In other Liverpool news, the referee has been named for the upcoming game against Manchester United.