Senegal's loss is Liverpool's gain as Mane returns

MANCHESTER: Senegal's heartbreaking loss in the African Cup of Nations could be Liverpool's gain in the Premier League.

Sadio Mane, Senegal's star player, was a picture of despair after missing the decisive spot kick in a penalty shootout loss to Cameroon in the quarter-finals on Saturday in Gabon.

However, it's likely there were celebrations among Liverpool fans as it meant the forward will soon be on his way back to Merseyside to help the team in its stumbling title challenge in the Premier League.

There's even a chance that Mane will play a part in Liverpool's game against Chelsea on Tuesday.

Liverpool has arranged for a private jet to fly Mane home. He would have to at least train on Monday afternoon to stand a chance of making the bench at Anfield the following day.

Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp must be tempted to rush Mane back.

The forward's absence has coincided with Liverpool's worst run of results since Klopp took charge in October 2015, with the team winning just one of its seven games in all competitions since Mane left for Senegal duty.

The Reds were knocked out of both the FA Cup and League Cup last week and has collected two points from a possible nine in the league in 2017, dropping them to fourth in the standings.

Mane has scored nine league goals in his first season at Liverpool and been a vital part of the most prolific forward line in the league. Without Mane's energy, Liverpool has looked ponderous going forward and its attacking shape has suffered.

Klopp has been looking for a catalyst to revive Liverpool's season and Mane's return could be it.

"Faith is not something you have today and tomorrow you don't have," Klopp said.

"Hopefully we all can recover and the crowd can recover and look forward to the game on Tuesday. It is a home game against the leader of the league and we need everyone for the game."

Liverpool is 10 points adrift of Chelsea, which has an eight-point lead over second-placed Arsenal heading into a full round of midweek fixtures spread over Tuesday and Wednesday.

Here's what else to look out for in the 23rd round of the Premier League:

West Ham vs Manchester City

Sergio Aguero is a doubt for City on Wednesday because of a back injury sustained against Tottenham last week, but City has cover for its star striker.

Brazil forward Gabriel Jesus made his first start for City in the 3-0 win over Crystal Palace in the FA Cup on Saturday, and could keep his place if Aguero isn't fit.

In more positive news for City manager Pep Guardiola, Fernandinho is available again after a four-match suspension and captain Vincent Kompany completed 90 minutes against Palace on his first senior appearance since November following his latest injury setback.

Manchester United vs Hull

These two teams should know each other well.

Wednesday's match will be the third meeting between United and Hull in the past three weeks, after their double-header in the League Cup semi-finals. They shared one victory each, but United advanced on aggregate.

United hasn't lost in 13 Premier League games and is in sixth place, two points behind fifth-place City and four points off Liverpool in the final Champions League spot.


In other matches involving contenders for Champions League qualification, Arsenal is at home to Watford on Tuesday and third-placed Tottenham is away to last-placed Sunderland.