Klopp cool on Mo's dry spell

Mohamed Salah's success last season means he has attracted more attention from opponents in the current campaign, often being double-marked.
Mohamed Salah's success last season means he has attracted more attention from opponents in the current campaign, often being double-marked.PHOTO: AFP

Reds boss talks up his 20 goals as opponents' close attention also benefits Firmino, Mane

LONDON • Mohamed Salah has failed to find the net in eight games, but Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has shrugged off his indifferent form, jokingly saying that "his career is not over".

The Egyptian forward, who scored 44 times in his maiden season at Anfield, still has 20 goals and seven assists this term and played a pivotal part in the last-gasp winner against Tottenham on Sunday.

"When everybody is talking about 'he didn't score in I don't know how many games', he doesn't seem to be bothered about it. I'm not," said Klopp, whose title-chasing side face Southampton today.

"For sure, we didn't really speak about it. I think if something is clear and obvious, you do speak about it. How do you deal with a situation when he scored 40 goals last year?

"His career's not over. It's like if he can score 20 goals this year, then he's scored 60 in the last two. Wow, that's not too bad."

Salah's success last season means he has attracted more attention from opponents in the current campaign, often being double-marked.

It has had the effect, though, of benefiting teammates, with Sadio Mane (20 goals) and Roberto Firmino (14) taking on some of the burden.

"Sometimes, you need a bit of time to adapt to the new situations and I don't think he really needed that," said Klopp, on Salah's overall value to the side and how he has coped with the close attention.

"If you have only one (goalscorer), you think maybe you rely a bit too much on that.

"This year, we don't rely on Mo's goals, but he's still in a very good position in comparison to all the other players.

"Seventeen (league) goals is a good number, and there are still a lot of games to come. But it was never a problem. We have 79 points - you cannot have that with a lot of problems over the year."

Southampton left-back Ryan Bertrand is relishing the challenge of nullifying former Chelsea teammate Salah on the right side of Liverpool's attack.

"It's always good to play against the best players. That is why you play and it's the ultimate aim," he told Sky Sports.

"I'm just looking forward to seeing his strengths and seeing his weaknesses and trying to nullify some and exploiting the others."

Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk is fit to face his former club after he took part in a full training session on Wednesday to allay fears of a muscle injury suffered in the win over Tottenham.

The Dutchman outlined his importance on Sunday when he faced Moussa Sissoko and Son Heung-min in a two-on-one break with the game finely poised at 1-1.

Van Dijk took the decision to leave Sissoko with the ball, forcing him into a shot that the nervous Tottenham man missed hopelessly, paving the way for Liverpool to snatch a dramatic last-gasp winner.

"He's so important to us not only as a player, but also as a person. I couldn't say a bad word about him even if I wanted," said Klopp.

"Yes, he has improved us and he has improved since he came here as well. He is a different player to when he was at Southampton.

"Champions League quarter-finals, semi-finals and final help you as a player."

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 05, 2019, with the headline 'Klopp cool on Mo's dry spell'. Print Edition | Subscribe