Peter Crouch feels Liverpool’s over-reliance on Mohamed Salah is proving to be their downfall this season.
The Egyptian had another off night at Anfield on Wednesday, though was not alone on that front with all his teammates suffering the same fate.
After a two-game resurgence, Liverpool slipped back into their post-Christmas slump, bereft of ideas, confidence and lacking any kind of spark.
Much of that usually comes through Salah, and with Sadio Mane out injured, the burden on his shoulders was only intensified.
It didn’t help that Roberto Firmino also struggled to find his groove, and Crouch believes Liverpool’s No.9 needs to take on a greater share of the responsibility.
“There’s over-reliance on Salah. Firmino’s got to step up,” Crouch told BT Sport.
“It felt like he was coming back into it, but Salah’s the one scoring the goals.
“It was a shame when [Diogo] Jota got injured as he was pushing them to start.
“When Salah’s not on it or he misses chances I just don’t think there’s enough. When Mane’s out and Jota’s out, there’s not enough in the team to score goals.”
One look at Liverpool’s scoring charts paints the whole picture, with Salah way out in front on 21 goals, followed by Man on 10.
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It’s been an extremely interesting start to the season for Jurgen Klopp’s men.
They got their title defence off to a shaky start as they edged out a seven-goal thriller against Leeds, before going on to conceded seven in a hammering by Aston Villa.
Virgil van Dijk’s season was ended by injury in the 2-2 draw at Everton, leaving the title favourites looking far less secure at the back – especially with Alisson’s injury worries too.
But there’s no slowing down in what is going to be a busy campaign – with Klopp ensuring his men continue at full pace as they bid for more title glory.
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Jota enjoyed a startling run to kick-off his Reds career, but injury cut him off on nine goals as he was really beginning to hit stride, while Firmino trails on just six.
The manner of the performance will be of greater concern to Jurgen Klopp, who admitted his team were “not fresh mentally and physically”.
Liverpool had 11 shots on goal, though just one of those was on target, and none of them memorable as they struggled to really test their south coast visitors.
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“At the moment it just looks like they’re one dimensional in terms of their attack,” Joleon Lescott said. “Yeah it has more effect when there’s Mane on the other side as we’ve seen against Spurs when both players have been in behind.
“But when it’s just Salah that’s the only way they’re going to get in.”
Lescott added: “Players like that [Salah] have off nights and when they do you need someone else to step up to the plate and no one seems to be able to do that at the moment.”