A statistic jumping out from the West Ham game was that despite our 73.3% possession to their 26.7%, we managed only 11 shots to their 13.
Despite the above, positions from which we’ve seen him score many times already in his relatively short Liverpool career, he had relatively few match involvements
West Ham defended Salah well, cramping him of space to both receive the ball and run into. It’s an area of our game we’ve struggled with a bit lately; the confined, deeper defensive units.
Despite a dismal first half, Keita’s surging with the ball in the second was pleasing in this regard. It asks questions of defenders & disrupts structure, particularly when bouncing one-twos off Salah & Firmino (both usually so adept at doing this, though less so on Monday night).
A lot is made of the importance of Mo Salah, and particularly his goalscoring, to this Liverpool team. This season we’ve seen more of a shift towards him being the focal point of the attack, though he’s still largely operating in similar areas (the inside right channel).
Despite this shift, opponents’ approach has still been to strangle Liverpool by strangling Firmino. Klopp’s tinkered with Firmino’s role & some have questioned this. What can’t be questioned though is how poor he was on Monday.
Take a look at the player pass combinations to/from Salah. Note the absence of the usual high combinations between Firmino & Salah:
Compare this to the last Bournemouth fixture from December when Salah gets his hat-trick:
We’ve praised Salah recently for his ability to game manage. He’s been quietly going about his business this season, in a more ruthless manner. Let’s not forget, he’s the league’s leading scorer with 16 goals.
There’s less of the spectacular, more of the cold blooded poacher about him. This becomes inevitably harder when the supply chain is limited.
I’m hoping we can see more of that brilliantly enjoyable interchange between our front 3, starting with Bournemouth on Saturday.
[statistics & graphics via StatsZone]