Salah’s streak, Klopp’s midfield muddle and pre-season pays off – post-match takeaway

LIAM WRAITH found a lot of joy in Liverpool’s ideal start to the new Premier League season. Mohamed Salah took the headlines, but the performance also eased concerns over midfield depth heading into the new season.

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As the Premier League returned, Liverpool got their league campaign off to the perfect start with a 3-0 victory over Championship title winners Norwich City.

Diogo Jota grabbed the Reds’ first goal of the season, when he was given two opportunities to fire beyond Tim Krul from just eight yards out – and did just that on the second attempt.


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Substitute Roberto Firmino placed himself perfectly to benefit from Mohamed Salah’s square ball to double the lead, before the Egyptian rifled home a sweet left-footed effort from outside the area to seal a comfortable victory.

Here are the key takeaways from the Reds’ opening day victory:

Another record broken

Since Salah’s arrival at Liverpool, something fans have grown used to is the Egyptian breaking numerous records – and the opening day victory yielded another for the former Roma man. The 29-year-old picked up where he left off last season with a goal and two assists, completing another vintage performance.

The Egyptian captain’s goal, whipped beyond Krul from the edge of the area, now means he has scored on the opening day of a Premier League season for the fifth season running. He’s the first player ever to do it, eclipsing Teddy Sheringham’s total after equalling it with a hat-trick against Leeds United last season.

The forward’s goal wasn’t the only defining moment of his performance. Two assists – he teed up Jota and Firmino for their first goals of the season – showed he has the hunger for another big season with Liverpool. Some reports indicate Salah could be the next in the long list of Liverpool players signing a new deal this summer – a just reward for such an important player.

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Despite a quiet pre-season by Salah’s standards, the Egyptian looked the same old talismanic figure with the return of competitive football and his numbers show the true greatness of his time at Liverpool.

Don’t be surprised if there are records to come.

A midfield dilemma?

Gini Wijnaldum’s departure to Paris Saint-Germain has left many believing Liverpool are short in the midfield department. This is understandable considering the longevity and durability of the former Liverpool man and the difficulty that replacing such qualities can give a club. However, the performances of Naby Keïta, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Harvey Elliott against Norwich may give Klopp the belief that he doesn’t need to sign a midfielder.

The Guinean midfielder has suffered injury problems ever since he arrived at Liverpool but many still believe there’s a need to keep faith with the former Leipzig man due to the technical qualities he possesses. His performance at Carrow Road showed someone who is more than capable – he played 83 minutes and put in a solid performance.

Oxlade-Chamberlain has had his injury difficulties too but he still has Klopp’s trust, which is enough for him revitalise his Liverpool career if he can repay that faith. His 61 minutes against Norwich in the first game of the season was encouraging enough.

Keita and Ox have had their injury concerns but both are coming off the back of their longest and most successful pre-seasons in Liverpool shirts.

If both are able to find longevity this season and can keep to a level of competing for starting berths in midfield alongside Jordan Henderson, Thiago, Fabinho and James Milner, six midfielders fighting for three positions is likely to give the Klopp the confidence he needs that he has depth in that position.

Add young stars Curtis Jones and Harvey Elliott into the mix of midfield options as well, and it’s hard to understand why some think the Reds don’t have enough cover in the middle of the park.

Start as you mean to go on

Fans and pundits alike have doubted Liverpool’s chances of winning the title this season due to strengthening of rivals and a comparable lack of transfer activity. The Reds’ performance at Carrow Road didn’t look like a team which lacked belief, though. Whether it be the excellence of Salah or the clinical edge of Jota and Firmino, Klopp’s men looked like a team which has all of the tools to mount another challenge at the top of the Premier League.

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If this convincing performance is anything to go by, the feel and mood around Anfield hasn’t changed. Klopp and his players have always said they are focused only on what they are doing, and that was evident at the start of this season too.

Manchester United romped home against Leeds and Chelsea looked convincing against Crystal Palace, but this won’t have even entered the thoughts of the lads ahead of the game at Carrow Road.

Other teams are capable of winning the Premier League for sure, but that won’t affect Liverpool’s preparation this season. As long as this team is able to turn out more performances like this one without his best XI available, Klopp will believe and so should the fanbase.


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