Goal has run a simulation of the remainder of 2016-17 and it looks like Jurgen Klopp’s in for a rough ride with his Senegalese attacker sidelined
Liverpool’s season success and Sadio Mane’s existence in the squad appear intertwined – with him they look infinitely stronger than without him.
The Senegal international has scored 13 goals in 27 games, and also provided five assists, as Liverpool have mounted a strong challenge for Champions League qualification.
The Reds sit third with seven games to play and only six points separate the Reds and Arsenal, who lie in fifth.
The 24-year-old sustained a horrible-looking knee injury against Everton earlier this month, however, and Jurgen Klopp’s men drew 2-2 with Bournemouth on Wednesday in their first match without Mane.
Klopp has now confirmed that Mane is out for the rest of the season – but will it spell the end of their top-four hopes or can they cling on amid intense competition?
Goal has run a simulation of how the Reds will fare this season without Mane, while comparing it with how they would do if he hadn’t sustained an injury against the Toffees.
LIVERPOOL WITH MANE
Even with Mane in their squad, our Football Manager simulation predicted that Liverpool would have fallen short of the top four – they finished the season in fifth place on 71 points, three points shy of Champions League qualification.
Mane scored three times and assisted twice in the remaining games, averaging a match rating of 7.09.
Aside from Mane, Coutinho and Firmino are the squad’s notable attacking performers with seven goals between them
But he was helpless to prevent Klopp’s men losing away at Stoke City, West Brom, Watford and West Ham as Liverpool’s poor form against weaker opposition continued to haunt them.
LIVERPOOL WITHOUT MANE
Slipping one spot and one point, Liverpool slumped to sixth in our Football Manager simulation without Mane to call on for the remainder of 2016-17.
The Anfield side finish the campaign in sixth place on 70 points, five points adrift of Champions League qualification.
Coutinho and Firmino are the star performers in Mane’s absence with Georginio Wijnaldum also performing well for the club.
This time Klopp’s men fail to beat Palace, Watford, Southampton, West Ham and Middlesbrough in the run-in which ultimately costs them a place in the Champions League as teams around them won their fixtures.
RESULTS IN FULL
Stoke 0-2 Liverpool
West Brom 0-1 Liverpool
Liverpool 1-1 Crystal Palace
Watford 1-1 Liverpool
Liverpool 0-1 Southampton
West Ham 1-1 Liverpool
Liverpool 1-1 Middlesbrough