A tactical tweak from Jurgen Klopp appeared to change how Mohamed Salah played against Manchester City.
Mohamed Salah was a different player against Manchester City. That was largely down to how Jurgen Klopp set the team up.
Klopp faced a tough decision, after all – Roberto Firmino or Diogo Jota? As it turned out, the boss went with both.
It meant Liverpool effectively played 4-2-4, with two box-to-box midfielders and a direct front-four.
And having that many attackers on the pitch appears to affect Salah. The Egyptian played a very different type of game.
Few players dribble more than Salah. He’s currently in the Premier League’s top 20 for dribbles per game this season – despite zero in his last two games.
Salah didn’t take on a single City player on Sunday, then, which is very unusual (all stats per Whoscored). When teams push on and there’s space for a counter-attack, Salah runs at players.
For comparison, he completed seven dribbles against Leeds on opening day. He did it twice away at Chelsea, too.
But against City, Salah turned creator. He made three key passes – more than anyone else in the game.
That’s got to be down to the tactical change. Salah didn’t quite have the usual space, given he had three teammates also running at defenders. On the flipside, he had three teammates to create for.
It just shows how fantastic a player Salah is, in all truth. He’s a goalscorer – Liverpool’s best – but has the ability to shake things up and play a very different kind of game when he has to.
This isn’t the first time we’ve seen him do it this season, after all. He played a similar game against Chelsea, leaving goals to others and almost playing as a playmaker.
If Klopp wants to play a flexible front four, that versatility will go a long way this season.