Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has described the first-half injury Roberto Firmino suffered in the 0-0 stalemate with Manchester United as a “catastrophe”.
It was a curious instalment of the North West Derby in which the Red Devils were forced to use all three substitutions in the opening 45 minutes after sustaining three injuries, while Klopp was required to make a change of his own after Firmino incurred an ankle problem.
How much did Liverpool miss Firmino? Five key things to know…
- Firmino is a vital cog in Liverpool’s well-oiled attacking tripartite.
- His forced substitution saw Daniel Sturridge enter the fray, but the England international was largely anonymous.
- Sturridge lacked the desired link-up ability of Firmino, nullifying the attacking exploits of Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah.
- Last season the lethal trio broke the record for most goals scored by three team-mates in a single Champions League season (30).
- Klopp believes the loss of Firmino was a “catastrophe” as Liverpool fired a blank at Old Trafford.
The Brazilian had displayed early glimmers of promise in the fierce clash, but was perhaps over-enthusiastic and suffered an ankle irritation that forced him off.
It presented forgotten man Sturridge a golden opportunity to showcase his worth and stake a claim for his future on Merseyside, but the 29-year-old proved ineffective on the day.
As such, Klopp has lamented the loss of his No 9, believing the substitution was the turning point in the match for his side, as it threw his game-plan out the window.
Speaking to Sky Sports after the match, Klopp said: “It was a strange game. We started really well. All the injuries in the game obviously cost us rhythm. It happened to us with ‘Bobby’ and that was a catastrophe.
“United played with a completely new midfield and three up front. We lost our rhythm and couldn’t get it back.
“It was a game without a lot of highlights – it was intense. On days when United are beatable you have to do it and we didn’t do it.
“We have a point more and Wednesday is our next game.”
The result ensured Liverpool retained their position at the summit of the Premier League in their pursuit of a first top-flight title since 1990, but the Anfield club failed to really maximise opportunity, with just one point separating them from Man City.
Firmino is currently a doubt for both Wednesday’s clash with Watford and this weekend’s trip to Everton, meaning Liverpool fans face an anxious wait to learn the extent of the forward’s injury.
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‘Match ruined by injury crisis’
United were not expecting a repeat of the infamous Paris Saint-Germain match, which saw Anthony Martial and Jesse Lingard forced off through injury, but they encountered a similar problem on Sunday.
Juan Mata, Ander Herrera and Jesse Lingard all sustained injury problems and had to come off, testing the mettle and resolve of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, who failed to find the right answers against the Ligue 1 giants a fortnight ago.
However, the Norwegian demonstrated his tactical nous and masterminded a resilient defensive performance against the league’s second-highest scorers, but Klopp feels the constant interruptions really hindered the fluidity of the match and killed the tempo.
He said: “These games are always opened up by one situation. The boys didn’t feel okay. I could see it in their faces. It was strange. I was thinking ‘what is gong on here today’. They lost momentum and rhythm and couldn’t really get it back.”