PART 1: The Dangerous Liverpool Forward Mohamed Salah, UEFA 2022

Oct 10, 2022

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Prior to this season, the talented Liverpool forward had at least five goals involved in each of his first six Premier League appearances. 

He had four goals and two assists in his first season with the red team. In the years that followed, he scored six goals in 2020–21, five goals in 2018–19, four goals in 2019–20, and three assists in the next season.

However, this time around, the Liverpool No. 11 just has two goals and two assists to his credit. It is simple to understand why there are so many inquiries into what is happening at Anfield when you consider that the Reds have had their worst season-opening performance under Jurgen Klopp. Many of them revolve around Salah.

To put an end to rumors about his future with the Merseysiders, the 30-year-old signed a new long-term contract with the team in the summer. Along with Klopp’s extension, the contract made him the highest-paid player in the team’s history and indicated that the Reds wanted to maintain their winning streak.

This summer, evolution was a popular topic among Liverpool supporters, but it wasn’t only because of Darwin Nunez. The 23-year- old was a blatant sign that the team’s playing approach will change. Since joining the team in 2015, Klopp has only signed one true center-forward, and that player is named Darwin.

The goal was for the Uruguayan striker to eventually overtake Roberto Firmino, who was once regarded as the system at Anfield.

With Sadio Mane out of the picture, the Reds would have to adjust. The former Southampton winger was one of the most productive players under Klopp, scoring at least 10 goals in six straight seasons while filling a variety of positions. The speedster from Senegal scored 20 goals or more in four of those campaigns.

Salah was under more pressure than ever before to perform with Mane gone and Firmino presumably being phased out over time while sharing the center-forward role with Diogo Jota and Darwin. 

Because of this, analysis of the three-time Golden Boot winner suggests he is currently on a dry spell rather than someone who has two goals and two assists in 540 Premier League minutes.

Many believe that Salah is too wide this season, which is a popular theory. Following the 0-0 tie with Everton, Klopp was questioned about it, and his answer was one of amusement. 

“No, it’s not greater than prior seasons or anything else,” he replied.

Salah has been taking up lots of space since the 2019–20 season began. In those early games, Liverpool experimented with a slightly different tactical approach by hugging the touchline with both wide forwards. Depending on which side of the field the Reds possessed the ball, a midfielder would then fill the space on either side of the center forward. 

What makes this sequence intriguing is how Liverpool leaves a sizable portion of the right side empty. Since Joe Gomez cannot receive an inside pass, he has the option of passing to Salah or returning the ball to Jordan Henderson. The Chelsea left-back goes outward to get a little closer in an effort to cover the pass to the Egyptian. Observe how the former Chelsea player doesn’t appear to be falling behind in this situation. He simply maintains his stance while luring Emerson Palmieri in. 

When Henderson receives a pass from Gomez, she sends a cross-field pass to Virgil van Dijk. 

Chelsea reorganizes and shifts to their right as the ball is back on Liverpool’s left side of the field.

That was probably the justification behind Klopp’s change to Salah’s starting position. It produced these kinds of chances. 

Due to the one-on-one scenarios it can produce, the German tactician has stuck with the idea of having Salah play in winger-like positions despite changing other aspects of the team’s shape since then.

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