Liverpool's puzzle: Getting the most out of Nunez and Salah

Liverpool should expect reinforcements in midfield after players recover from injuries but that could pose a new problem

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You suspect Jurgen Klopp would have preferred for Liverpool to have an opportunity to quickly build on their dramatic 2-1 win over Ajax.

But the cancellation of the weekend trip to Chelsea and an always unwelcome international break mean the German instead has plenty of time on his hands.

This week’s hiatus is not all bad news, fortunately enough, given it does at least offer Klopp the chance to delve deeper into the reasons behind what has been a slow start to the new campaign.

Here, we examine three pressing issues the Reds boss will be considering prior to his international stars returning to Kirkby.

Integrating Nunez

But for a moment of madness against Crystal Palace, Darwin Nunez would have been three games further along in his bid to adapt to new surroundings, a new tactical set-up, and new teammates.

As it is, the Uruguayan headed out to represent his country having yet to prove that he can do the job he was bought for: replacing Sadio Mane.

Nunez’s bid to do that has hardly been helped by the fact that poor results have ramped up the pressure, a fact that led Klopp to opt for the safety and familiarity of Diogo Jota up top against Ajax last time out.

However, if this season is to be a success, the manager knows he will need to get a tune out of his £85m striker as soon as possible, and the only way to do that is with regular game time.

Finding right midfield mix

The imminent easing of Liverpool’s injury crisis is another upside to this enforced break, and it is an improvement of Klopp’s options in central midfield that is sure to be most welcome.

Jordan Henderson is available again after a hamstring injury, while it is hoped that Curtis Jones’ tibial stress issue will settle before club action resumes.

Naby Keita and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain are also slated for October returns and so shouldn’t be too far behind, either.

Unfortunately for the manager, this also means a new selection headache given that each of these players is returning to also compete with Harvey Elliott, Thiago Alcantara, Fabinho, James Milner, Arthur Melo and Fabio Carvalho for starts.

Whatever the manager decides, finding the right blend in an area of the pitch that has been the focus for so much criticism in the early stages of the season will be key to an improved run of form.

Get Salah back in the goals

In normal circumstances, four goals in nine games across all competitions thus far would represent a fine return for any winger - but this is Mohamed Salah we’re talking about.

The Egyptian’s reputation as one of the best forwards in the world owes much to the fact that he has typically scored way above that rate since joining Liverpool.

Klopp has pushed back on the idea that Salah’s role has been tweaked to make him more of a creator than a finisher this term, but it is clear to see that he has not been getting into goalscoring positions quite as frequently.

Whether that is by accident or design, it must be rectified immediately so that the Reds’ biggest threat can do what he does best on a more regular basis.

Anything else is a waste of his talents, and is unlikely to help the team as a whole show its best form.

Updated: September 21, 2022, 2:15 AM
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