When Erling Haaland was sent home from national team duty by Norway last week, the assumption was that the minor groin injury the 22-year-old star suffered in Manchester City’s 7-0 FA Cup demolition of Burnley wouldn’t keep him out for long.
With just two days before Premier League action resumes, though, Haaland remains an absence from training for Pep Guardiola’s side, potentially giving a boost to Jürgen Klopp and the Reds as Liverpool prepare to take on this season’s second best side.
Like Liverpool, City have taken a step back this season—though for a sportswashing front with City’s unlimited resources, a step back means running in second and pushing current leaders Arsenal compared to Liverpool’s tumble out of the top four.
Many have highlighted issues integrating Haaland into a lineup that has eschewed a traditional striker since Guardiola arrived as being part of the problem, but Haaland’s goals record and ability to bully opponents simply cannot be minimized.
Liverpool similarly acquired a more traditional striker last summer, but in the case of Klopp and The Reds it appears now that the answer is to move Darwin Nuñez to the left rather than attempting to reinvent their style and attacking patterns of play.