John Aldridge: Alarm bells should be ringing over nervous Salah as Fulham defence had star in their pocket
Mohamed Salah turned in one of his worst performances of the season at Fulham on Sunday and the alarm bells should now be ringing loudly for his manager Jurgen Klopp.
None of us could have expected Salah to reproduce the form that saw him score 44 goals for Liverpool as he fired them into last season’s Champions League final, but his dip in form is now in danger of becoming much more than just a temporary blip.
Salah has scored his share of goals in recent months and even though he is a strong contender to win the Premier League’s golden boot for a second successive season, Liverpool’s star man has now gone seven games without a goal and I feel that the run is getting to him.
He was finishing chances without even thinking about it last season and that freedom has been lost in recent months, with what looked like partial returns to form against Watford and in the away game at Bayern Munich quickly forgotten after his display at Craven Cottage.
The Fulham defence had Salah in their pocket and every time he got the ball, he looked uncertain and possibly even nervous, which is not an emotion you associate with a player who was being talked about as a contender to be the best in the world not so long ago.
Klopp needs Salah to find his form quickly as they need him firing if they are going to win the title and I hope this international break will give him the release he needs to get back on track ahead of what will be a decisive few weeks in this fascinating season.
After the euphoria of the big win against Bayern Munich last Wednesday, Liverpool came back down to earth with a bump as they struggled to hit top form at Craven Cottage, yet the main thing is they got the win they needed.
Being top of the table with just seven games left to play in the Premier League season is a fantastic position to be in and there is every hope this season could end with a first Liverpool title success since 1990.
Manchester City’s schedule in April is hectic, with their FA Cup semi-final now injected into the mix that will also include two Champions League quarter-finals ties against Tottenham and a Premier League match at Old Trafford against Manchester United. While they have a great squad, that run of matches would test any team and if they come through April winning every match and remaining on course to win a quadruple of trophies, Liverpool would have to accept they are a team of worthy champions.
However, their tight 3-2 FA Cup win against Swansea at the weekend provided evidence that the relentless run of fixtures could trip them up at some point and Liverpool need to be in place to take advantage if that slip comes in the Premier League.
Liverpool’s next match against Tottenham at Anfield is vital and if they come out of that game with a two-point lead at the top still intact, all eyes will start to turn to City’s game against United at Old Trafford on April 24th.
United probably don’t want Liverpool to win the title, but they need to win that game to keep their hopes of a top-four finish on track and that motivation will mean they have to go for it against their local rivals.
History shows that teams going for so many trophies at the back end of the season tend to stumble at some point and even though Liverpool may need to win their remaining seven Premier League matches to have a chance of being champions, that finishing line is drawing ever closer now.