Saturday 17 February 2018

The incredible statistic that suggests Liverpool's hopes of a top four finish are in real peril

Liverpool's Sadio Mane leaves the pitch after picking up an injury against Everton
Liverpool's Sadio Mane leaves the pitch after picking up an injury against Everton
Kevin Palmer

Kevin Palmer

Liverpool’s hopes of securing a return to next season’s Champions League would appear to be in real peril when you consider they have not won a single Premier League game this season without leading scorer Sadio Mane.

The Senegal forward looks set to miss the rest of the season with a serious knee injury sustained in last Saturday’s Merseyside derby victory against Everton at Anfield and given Liverpool’s woeful record in his absence, their push for a top four finish the Premier League looks set to take a big hit.

Liverpool are waiting for the swelling around Mane’s knee to subside before they can evaluate the extent of his injury, but manager Jurgen Klopp has confirmed he may well have kicked his last ball this season.

If serious ligament damage is confirmed, he may even be ruled out of action for part of next season and the alarming statistic that Liverpool have not won in the league without Mane will do little to dampen down Klopp’s fears over the striker who has fired 13 Premier League goals so far this season.

“It doesn’t look at the moment like he could play one more game this season, but if somebody wants to surprise me with positive news then I am open for this. We will see,” said Klopp as he offered up some view on Mane’s injury on Wednesday.

“There is no final judgment. We have to wait for more assessments and then we will know more.”

With seven games left to play, Liverpool have a six point cushion on fifth placed Arsenal in the race to secure a top four finish and yet the statistic that they seem incapable of winning games without Mane has to be a major concern.

The 2-2 draw against Bournemouth on Wednesday night was the latest setback for a side that lack attacking thrust in Mane’s absence, with their miserable run of form when he was away on African Cup of Nations duty in January evidence of what can happen when Liverpool are deprived of their match winner.

Liverpool crashed out of the EFL Cup and the FA Cup on home soil in January and also failed to win in the Premier League, but Klopp suggests Mane’s absence was only part of the reason for that slump.

“The big problem in January was not just Sadio being missing,” added the Liverpool boss. “Everybody would miss Sadio, Southampton probably still miss Sadio, Red Bull Salzburg miss him, we have nice company.

“It was just such a hard moment in general, this part of the season in January. We have to cope without him. That is all we can do now.”

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