Liverpool supporters have been pretty downbeat in the Transfer Tavern in the last few hours after seeing their side go down 1-0 to the Premier League’s bottom side Swansea City on Monday night, thus ending their excellent 18-match unbeaten run in all competitions.
Jurgen Klopp’s men went into their clash in South Wales off the back of beating runaway leaders Manchester City 4-3 in their previous outing, and would have hoped to continue their incredible unbeaten run, which dated back to October, at the Liberty Stadium. Yet the Reds produced a poor performance and were made to pay as Alfie Mawson brilliantly struck home what turned out to be the winner minutes before half time to secure a crucial victory for Carlos Carvalhal’s men, at the same time putting a dent in Liverpool’s top four aspirations.
Consequently, there have been many frustrated Liverpudlians in the Tavern in the last few hours, several of whom believe that the absence of Philippe Coutinho, who of course moved to Barcelona earlier this month, was hugely felt against the Swans on Monday night.
And their woeful display against a side struggling at the rear end of the table simply must convince Klopp to replace the influential attacker with another this month, namely Reds-linked Riyad Mahrez.
Ultimately, many will point to their sensational display against City last weekend as evidence that Coutinho’s departure will have little bearing on their season, but they were never going to feel his absence in a game like that against a team attacking against them.
But against the so-called lesser sides, where the emphasis is on Liverpool to break them down, his impact will be missed, and certainly was missed against the Swans.
The Reds were pretty bereft of ideas going forward, resorting often to long-range efforts from central midfielders and centre-backs – that isn’t going to get the job done.
Coutinho saved them often against those lower ranked sides, be it directly with a stunning hit against Newcastle, or through his incredible ability to find pockets of space and through balls to teammates, from open play or dead-ball situations.
And that’s why, for all the attacking talent Klopp has at his disposal, he must replace the 25-year-old this month. And Mahrez is the man he has to lure to Anfield.
They have been linked with several top players in recent times, James Rodriguez and Thomas Lemar to name a few, but Mahrez has proven his quality in this division, both to help Leicester win the title, and indeed to help them avoid relegation.
The Algeria star has the ability to win a game out of nothing, be it from a set piece situation, or where he seizes the initiative and goes on mazy runs forward to create space and time for both himself, and his teammates. He can make things happen in the same way Coutinho did.
Liverpool were in dire need of that ability on Monday night. Without Coutinho, there was very little creativity in the final third – Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane, and Roberto Firmino all had pretty poor evenings in South Wales.
That influential attacker, that matchwinner is needed against those so-called lesser teams, and to win titles, one must beat these sides, as well as those around them.
Mahrez helped Leicester to do just that back in the 2015/16 campaign en route to the title, and has continued to do so in recent years to suggest that he could be the man to replace Coutinho at Anfield.
And Monday’s defeat highlights exactly why Klopp has to get a deal done for the £27 million-rated ace (as per Transfermarkt) in the next eight days.
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