EFL postpones Liverpool v Arsenal Carabao Cup tie due to Covid cases
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The arrival of Philippe Coutinho at Aston Villa represents the return of one of the Premier League’s most exciting players of the last decade. But it is also a missed opportunity for Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp to have solved a major issue facing him for at least the rest of this month.
Coutinho has moved to Villa Park for the rest of the season on loan from Barcelona, with the deal subject to a medical and work permit.
It will see the Brazilian link back up with Steven Gerrard, who he starred alongside in Liverpool’s title challenge in the 2013/2014 season.
After impressing for the Reds for four more years after that, Coutinho was sold to Barcelona for an initial £105million that can rise as high as £142m.
His move to the Nou Camp has been nothing short of a disaster though, with the La Liga giants having been trying to sell him for some time.
While they have only been able to loan him out, it is still an impressive move from Villa, with Coutinho significantly boosting their forward options.
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That is something that Liverpool have missed out on by failing to get involved in the chase to sign him.
Forward options are desperately needed as Klopp attempts to find a glimmer of hope for the Reds’ Premier League title challenge.
They are 11 points behind leaders Manchester City and will be missing three players for at least the rest of the month.
Mohamed Salah, Naby Keita and Sadio Mane are all taking part in the Africa Cup of Nations, which will run until 6 February.
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In their absence, Klopp will be left with Diogo Jota, Roberto Firmino and Divock Origi as realistic first-choice options up top.
That drop off could be a hammer blow to Liverpool’s title hopes, with the Reds facing Brentford and Crystal Palace while they are away.
They will also miss cup matches against Shrewsbury Town and Arsenal, trophies Liverpool could target in the absence of the title.
Without Salah, Mane and Keita for a month will leave their squad stretched thin, while the heavy workload of tournament football will likely leave the trio in need of a rest upon their return.
While Klopp has previously insisted that he would “find solutions” to the problem of their absence, he has missed a major opportunity to do just that with Coutinho.
As well as offering an extra attacking option, the Brazilian is also capable of being deployed in midfield, another area that is looking on the depleted side.
While he has struggled with injury in recent seasons, Liverpool would only have needed him to start a handful of games as they rotated their side.
Instead, Klopp will now be forced to push his few first-choice options to the limit as Liverpool look to enjoy a successful second-half of the season.
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