The lack of ingenuity and creativity by Liverpool against Manchester United was deeply worrying.
Not for the first time this season, Liverpool struggled against a low block and rigid defence, the Reds’ attackers unable to find a breakthrough in a frustrating goalless draw at Anfield.
One player who could have provided a spark in midfield was Alexis Mac Allister. While he has usually played as a defensive midfielder since arriving in the summer, the World Cup winner has the ability to unlock defences with his impressive passing range.
Unfortunately for Jurgen Klopp, he was without the Argentine for Man Utd’s Merseyside visit due to injury, with none of his fit midfielders able to penetrate the Red Devils’ defence.
But what exactly is Mac Allister’s ailment and when might he return for Liverpool?
It was just several minutes into the clash with Sheffield United when Vinicius Souza trod on the leg of Mac Allister at Bramall Lane, the former Brighton man writhing in agony on the turf. It appeared as if his evening would be over, but the midfielder soldiered on.
However, after a few more robust challenges, Mac Allister was eventually forced to withdraw from the pitch just before the hour mark.
Speaking after the Sheffield United game, Klopp confirmed that he had suffered a nasty cut to his knee and had needed stitches, but was hopeful that the injury wasn’t too serious.
However, it turned out to be worse than first feared, Klopp revealing the gruesome extent of the 24-year-old’s problem.
“It’s a bit more tricky than we thought at the first moment,” said the Liverpool boss.
“The other boy [Souza] stepped on his knee and the stud went through pretty much the muscle on to the bone.
“Now, we have to wait until the bone is healed and until Macca can deal with the pain, because it is pretty painful. Macca is actually a super-tough guy so we have probably to make sure just from an infection point of view nothing happens. That’s really important.
“I never had this injury for one of my players before but now we have it.”
Souza somehow managed to avoid a booking for what was an unpleasant challenge, with Mac Allister having missed the Reds’ subsequent three games against Crystal Palace, Union Saint-Gilloise and Man Utd.
Unfortunately for Mac Allister and Liverpool, there is no obvious timeframe for his recovery given the rare nature of the injury. However, Klopp has issued a slight update on his fitness.
Speaking before the game with Union SG last Thursday, the German stated: “I hope it will not take that long, I would like to say it’s day by day – but that would look like he could maybe play the next game [against Union SG] but he will not be ready for that as well.
“I hope the next three or four days he makes big steps and then we will see.”
With games coming thick and fast for the Reds, Klopp will hope to have Mac Allister back soon and will likely shed more light on a potential return in his next few pre-match press conferences.
While Liverpool won’t want to rush him back into the team, they currently find themselves light in midfield.
Ryan Gravenberch came off injured against Man Utd on Sunday, while Thiago and Stefan Bajcetic remain sidelined until the beginning of 2024 at the earliest.
That means that Wataru Endo, who has been fairly hit and miss in a Liverpool shirt, is the club’s only fit defensive midfielder, perhaps making Klopp think twice about reinforcements in the January transfer window.