Liverpool drew a rare blank in a Merseyside derby date with Everton, with Robbie Fowler branding the Reds “as sharp as a Primark suit” without Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino.
With their 38-goal top goalscorer nursing a knock and Jurgen Klopp reluctant to take risks ahead of the second leg of a Champions League quart-final clash with Manchester City, a much-changed side took to the field at Goodison Park on Saturday.
Sadio Mane was the only member of the ‘Fab Three’ to make the cut, with Danny Ings and Dominic Solanke drafted in for rare starts as part of Liverpool’s attacking unit.
A side which has been free-scoring throughout the 2017-18 campaign was unable to create much with star turns missing or on the bench, and club legend Fowler has highlighted an alarming lack of depth within the Anfield ranks.
He wrote in a column for the Daily Mirror on the back of a 0-0 derby draw: “Jurgen Klopp will be seriously concerned by Liverpool’s lack of cutting-edge depth ahead of Tuesday’s season-defining clash with Manchester City.
“Without Mo Salah or Roberto Firmino, Liverpool were nowhere near sharp enough in the final third of the pitch.
“In fact, they were about as sharp as a Primark suit. It is, though, understandable.
“Danny Ings and Dominic Solanke have had hardly any game time this season, and have never really played together, certainly not in a game with this intensity.
“It was always going to be a big ask for them to reproduce Liverpool’s first-choice counter-attacking verve.
“Yet Klopp knows this lack of options is a real worry. All the top teams have strength in depth up front – I sometimes think Jose Mourinho at Manchester United is collecting forwards for his World Cup sticker album!
“Liverpool have a front three... and then nothing too obvious beyond that, with both Divock Origi and Daniel Sturridge out on loan.”
Liverpool can be expected to revert to their tried and tested at the Etihad Stadium in midweek, and have a commanding 3-0 lead to defend against City, but Fowler feels there are issues to address heading forward.
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He added: “Obviously, Salah will be the key on Tuesday in the quarter-final second leg.
“If he’s fit, then that is a massive weapon. If he’s not, then we saw in the derby how Klopp’s team will struggle to find any pace or penetration on the break.”