Mohamed Salah might not be facing Wolves at Anfield on Sunday. It’s something that could quietly benefit Liverpool.
Jurgen Klopp admits that he won’t take any risks with his injured players against Wolves. Mohamed Salah, Virgil van Dijk and Fabinho all have problems and even though Liverpool can win the title, they could sit this one out.
“What we do with them for the weekend I have no idea,” said Klopp, per the Athletic.
“I actually understand 100 per cent the goalscoring battle with Heung-min Son but we have no chance that we take any risks.”
Klopp is referencing the fact that Salah is in the Golden Boot race against Son. The Korean can overtake Salah with a couple of goals. Regardless, the Liverpool boss goes on to say that his player understands.
But there’s actually a chance that Liverpool quietly benefit from Salah not facing Wolves. They could undo a difficult tactic by resting him.
Mohamed Salah not facing Wolves
Liverpool beat Wolves 1-0 back in December. It was a notable game in that Salah didn’t actually play very well and it took a late Divock Origi goal to win it. Salah was in irresistible form at the time, of course, but this was a rare display.
It was easily explained, though. Wolves setup with a back five, using a covering centre-back to help their full-back against Salah. The Egyptian couldn’t cut inside or isolate a defender without immediately finding a second defender helping out.
It meant Salah spent most of the game simply stretching play by standing very wide. He wasn’t too effective with the ball.
We then saw Tottenham Hotspur do the same thing later that month, with similar results. It’s a problem when teams are willing to sit very deep – Salah finds himself up against two or three defenders at all times and can’t cut inside.
Thus there’s a case that not playing Salah on Sunday could actually benefit Liverpool. Every alternative forward on the right flank is right-footed and won’t make the same movements. They’ll naturally try to beat defenders on the outside, eliminating the covering centre-back from the equation. Wolves best way of stopping Liverpool’s creativity won’t work.
Now, a fully-fit Salah should start as he’s too good to leave out. Liverpool might find that they benefit tactically with his absence, though. Someone like Diogo Jota or Luis Diaz will be a lot harder for them to mark while sitting deep.
And that could be what breaks them down before the 90th minute this time.