OPINION 🗞️ 📌 Michael Owen wrong about Mohamed Salah as Liverpool truth becomes clear

Mohamed Salah isn’t the real attacking problem for Liverpool and Jurgen Klopp

Those critics pointing the finger at Mohamed Salah this season are missing the point about Liverpool and their attack

Michael Owen could argue he was merely reflecting what an increasing number are saying about Liverpool forward Mohamed Salah.


“He has been pretty non-existent,” said the former Reds striker after Saturday’s goalless draw at Everton. “We did look at how wide of a position he is taking up this season. Is that to do with the new centre-forward? Well, he has been missing for the last three games.”


A quick glance at Salah’s goal output this season – three goals in seven games – would point to a player operating below his best, particularly when Golden Boot rival Erling Haaland of Manchester City is already in double figures.


And that has been sufficient for some whispers to start suggesting Salah’s focus and intensity have started to slip. Having ended speculation over his future by penning a lucrative new long-term contract during the summer, the critics are also looking at the end to last season in which he netted only five times in his final 20 Liverpool matches.


But it doesn’t take much investigation to discover the real picture.


Take the game at Everton. Salah was barely in the game in the first half, yet by the end no Liverpool player had made more key passes and only Darwin Nunez had more shots. Indeed, Salah almost earned a win during injury time with an effort Everton goalkeeper Jordan Pickford tipped on to the post.


Three days earlier, despite having fewer touches than his fellow Reds forwards and being marked heavily by man-mountains Matt Target and Dan Burn, Salah provided twice as many key passes – six – as any Liverpool player and assisted both goals.


It has been a similar tale throughout the season. Salah was given poor service before half-time at Fulham yet produced an assist and goal in the second half. At home to Crystal Palace, he made a whopping eight key passes and only Nunez and Trent Alexander-Arnold shot more, and the Egyptian then netted at Manchester United.

Even against Bournemouth, when Liverpool rattled in a record-breaking nine goals and Salah remarkably failed to contribute a goal or an assist, the Egyptian could easily have scored a hat-trick – spurning chances from the kind of central positions he seemingly hasn’t been in enough this campaign.

The problem isn’t Salah himself. The issue is with Liverpool not being able to involve the Egyptian in the game as much as they have previously.


There are several reasons for that. The first is the inevitable adaptation to a new-look attack with Sadio Mane having departed, not helped by Darwin Nunez’s suspension and injury to Diogo Jota. With both now back, matters should improve, with there having already been signs of an understanding between Salah and Nunez.


Mane’s style of play and renowned threat meant he often occupied more than one defender, giving Salah a little more space. Nunez, and to a lesser extent Luis Diaz, haven’t yet built up the reputation of danger to be given such special treatment.


But arguably more telling has been the poor form of right-wing partner Trent Alexander-Arnold and the constant issues in midfield. The triangle of that duo plus Jordan Henderson on the right side was a constant menace last season, but Henderson has been on the left of the midfield three for much of the campaign and in any case is now injured. Salah demonstrated hints of linking up with Harvey Elliott, now more regular in that right midfield position, before the youngster’s injury early last term, and while the equaliser against Newcastle showed signs of a growing partnership, it remains a work in progress.


Liverpool, then, shouldn’t be worried about Salah. Instead, the concern for Klopp is how to once again capitalise on his world-class talents. It may well prove pivotal as the Reds look to ensure they don’t lose touch with the leading pack over the coming weeks.


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