John Barnes discusses Mohamed Salah’s absence and previews FA Cup clash with Arsenal

Liverpool secured a 4-2 victory over Newcastle before Mohamed Salah’s departure to participate in the African Cup of Nations. Salah’s absence will undoubtedly be a significant loss for Liverpool, and the team will rely on their other forwards to step up and contribute with goals during his time away.

We had the opportunity to speak with former Liverpool winger John Barnes to explore how Liverpool plans to adapt during this period and also preview the upcoming FA Cup clash against Arsenal this weekend.

In this article: 

  • Barnes unconcerned by Salah’s absence 
  • Is Szoboszlai the answer to Liverpool’s Salah conundrum
  • Liverpool vs Arsenal FA Cup Preview 

Barnes unconcerned by Salah’s absence 

Replacing the production of a player like Mohamed Salah, who has scored 18 goals in 27 appearances, provided 9 assists in 27 appearances, and boasts a career tally of 281 goals, is undoubtedly a challenging task. The aura and influence he brings to the Liverpool squad are significant.

The question now becomes, who in the Liverpool squad will step up in terms of goal-scoring during Salah’s absence? While Salah has become a linchpin in the Liverpool lineup, they currently occupy the top spot in the league. However, their league position could fluctuate by the time Salah returns from representing Egypt.

John Barnes seems to express confidence in Liverpool’s ability to handle Salah’s absence, despite acknowledging his immense importance to the team. It will be interesting to see which players rise to the occasion and contribute in terms of goals during this period.

“I’m not worried about scoring. The chances they’re creating, the goals they’re scoring, people other than Salah are scoring. We’re covered in that area.”

“Jota who’s been on the bench. Gakpo who’s been playing. We’ve still got Diaz. We haven’t got an issue up front.”

“Of course you will miss Mo, but the way we play, the chances that we create, aren’t all about Mo.”

“They are the fun five as I call them. I’m talking about Gakpo, Diaz, Nunez, Mo and Jota. We’re covered in that area even though Mo leaving is not ideal.”

Is Szoboszlai the answer to Liverpool’s Salah conundrum

Former Liverpool defender turned pundit Jamie Carragher has suggested the idea of using Dominik Szoboszlai as part of the Liverpool front three during Mohamed Salah’s absence. Szoboszlai, who began his career at RB Salzburg in Austria, has a track record of contributing both goals and assists while playing in attacking midfield and as a winger, particularly during their title-winning campaigns. He has also featured in similar roles for RB Leipzig.

Carragher’s proposal envisions Szoboszlai as an alternative solution to the Salah issue. However, John Barnes appears to have a different perspective on this matter. He leans towards deploying Szoboszlai in midfield and suggests that players like Luis Diaz and Harvey Elliott might be better-suited options for the right side in Liverpool’s lineup. This highlights the variety of opinions and tactical considerations when it comes to adapting to Salah’s absence.

“Diaz can play on the right, he’s right-footed. Szoboszlai’s right-footed. There’s Harvey Elliott.”

“Szoboszlai can play anywhere but I prefer him in midfield. He has played as a No. 6, as an attacking midfielder and I have no doubt he can play on the right wing but Klopp is not going to put Szobozslai ahead of Jota, for example.”

“So, that’s really not an issue. Szoboszlai for me is an out and out midfielder. It’s just a question of if he plays deeper or if he plays more of an attacking role.”

“In terms of playing in Mo’s position, that’s not Szoboszlai’s role.”

Liverpool vs Arsenal FA Cup Preview 

Liverpool and Arsenal are scheduled to face each other again in the FA Cup this weekend, but both Jürgen Klopp and Mikel Arteta may find themselves without several key players for the Emirates clash. The question arises whether Liverpool should field a full-strength lineup for the match.

Both teams might view this match as an opportunity to give some of their stars a rest, considering there is still much of the season left to be played. While the significance of an Arsenal vs. Liverpool clash is undeniable, John Barnes doesn’t envision both teams going with full-strength lineups. This suggests that squad rotation and player management may take precedence in the FA Cup match, allowing some key players to get much-needed rest.

“It’s the third round, not the quarter finals. If it were a quarter finals then we may be looking at both teams playing full strength teams.” 

“The FA Cup is a great competition so I think both teams will put out strong sides even if they aren’t full strength line ups.” 

“Arsenal vs Liverpool is a huge game but I wouldn’t be surprised if both managers made changes. Liverpool will definitely be putting out a competitive side to win.”