It’s easy to blame Mo Salah for Liverpool’s 0-0 draw with Everton after his missed chances. It would be wrong to, however, and his performance highlighted the real problem.
Everton were always going to be difficult opponents for Liverpool. The Toffees were intense, driven, and motivated.
The cheers at the end of the 0-0 draw showed exactly why. Everton had won their title, after all. That is, making it marginally harder for Liverpool to win the actual one.
Despite the intensity and performance of Everton, Liverpool still managed chances to win it. Virtually all of those fell to Salah, too, exactly as Jurgen Klopp would have wanted.
But Salah had a very, very poor game. Almost nothing went right for him, be it finishing or creating. It was ‘one of those days’, only the day had come at precisely the wrong time.
People can blame Salah for the Everton draw – he missed the chances that would have given Liverpool the win. But the much bigger problem was that it all fell to Salah.
The Egyptian is going through a bad spell. One goal in seven games bad, in fact.
So where were the players stepping up in his time of need? They were there against Watford but absent at Goodison Park.
Klopp has received criticism for substituting Sadio Mane in the second half. Salah was the one playing badly, after all. But the fact is, Mane didn’t even get himself an opportunity to score all afternoon.
The odds that Salah was finally going to bundle one in off his thigh looked far higher than Mane, or Divock Origi for that matter, even getting the chance to.
Let’s look at a comparison with Manchester City, the title rivals. They scraped a 1-0 win away at Bournemouth this weekend, despite having 23 shots to the Cherries’ zero.
Sergio Aguero, Raheem Sterling, David Silva and co were all on the pitch but the goal came from elsewhere. Riyad Mahrez, a player Pep Guardiola has only trusted to start in a little over a third of games this season, stepped up when others couldn’t.
That’s the kind of depth – perhaps even luck – that Liverpool need to find again. It was there earlier in the season but has eluded them in recent weeks.
The draw with Everton wasn’t because Salah missed chances. It’s that no one else stepped up.