Firmino injury casts shadow over five-goal rout
Firmino’s injury, sustained in training this week, is bad news for Liverpool as they battle with Manchester City in the title race and prepare to face Barcelona in the Champions League semi-final first leg on Wednesday.
Liverpool boss Klopp remains optimistic about the Brazilian forward’s chances of a quick recovery, but the injury update took some of the gloss off an evening which featured Naby Keita scoring after just 15 seconds for the club’s fastest ever Premier League goal.
“He trained normally yesterday but after training he had a small tear in a very small muscle,” Klopp said.
“Apart from the word ‘tear’ everything is positive but it is Bobby and he might be ready for Wednesday. We don’t know at the moment. Because it’s him, it’s more likely than not.
“Of all the bad news you could get, it is pretty much the best (outcome) but it was still bad enough that he could not play tonight.”
Despite the relatively benign diagnosis, Klopp can ill afford to enter such a crucial stage of the season without a full compliment of players.
The latest victory took Liverpool onto 91 points — enough to have won the league title in 105 of the previous 119 seasons in English football history.
Yet with City still having the destiny of the title in their hands, the prospect remains that Liverpool could end the campaign with 97 points and only finish second.
“If we can have 97, then let’s go for it, then we will see,” Klopp said.
“It’s still history. We said we want to create our own history and these boys are outstanding. That’s the reason we are where we are, now let’s carry on.”
Even without Firmino, Liverpool had more than enough to sweep aside relegated Huddersfield Town, with Salah and Mane becoming the first Premier League strikers this season to reach the 20-goal mark, reaching 21 and 20 goals, respectively.
It was Keita who started the rout with the first of those goals as goalkeeper Jonas Lossl played a harmless pass out of the Huddersfield Town area to Jon Gorenc Stankovic, who was immediately closed down by Keita and robbed of the ball.
The midfielder quickly exchanged passes with Salah and advanced into the area before scoring with an accomplished 15-yard finish.
On 23 minutes, the lead was predictably doubled as full-back Andy Robertson appeared on the end of a patient move to cross for Mane to split his markers and head in.
And, in first-half stoppage-time, Klopp’s side struck again when right-back Trent Alexander-Arnold’s magnificently-weighted pass was met by Salah, who lobbed the ball over the advancing goalkeeper’s head.
Mane added a fourth, on 65 minutes, as he headed in impressively, off-balance from six yards, from another excellent cross, this one from Jordan Henderson.
A successful evening continued as Klopp was able to bring on Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, out for 12 months with knee ligament injury, as a 73rd minute substitute.
The England international came close to scoring within minutes and fellow sub Xherdan Shaqiri almost set up a hat-trick for Mane whose header hit the post.
Shaqiri also started the move for the 83rd minute fifth goal, finding Robertson whose deadly cross was turned in from point-blank range by Salah.