This time last year it was Sadio Mané who stood in the speed and agility spotlight ahead the season’s opener. And the Senegalese forward did not shy away from it, blindsiding opposition defenses with the way his speed and agility fused so finely with Liverpool’s attacking play. Now, there’s a new speed demon in town that has the spotlight ahead of tomorrow’s match against Watford: Mohamed Salah.
Salah was signed to add even more pace to Liverpool’s attack and going on what the Egyptian footballer showed during preseason, we should plan on seeing that pace and much more. Jürgen Klopp knows first-hand what Salah is capable of. But more importantly, just like with Mané, what Salah is capable of when his abilities are fused so finely with Liverpool’s already dynamic attacking play.
“Everybody can see all his skills.” said Klopp. “Speed, technical and finishing ability. A few of these skills are really natural. I have spoken to him a few times, but I didn’t need to immediately tell him what I want.”
Another bit evidence that Klopp shops for what he needs not for what he wants. He’s looking for footballers who are naturally tuned to Jürgen Radio and Salah appears to have been listening his whole life.
There will be defensive cover to learn and where to be and not to be during the full court press but that’s to be expected in the zippy, demolition derby atmosphere of Liverpool without the ball. But what Salah has on day one is pace in spades to open up channels for the team or glide into open areas.
“Speed is the most difficult thing to defend in football as it opens space,” said Klopp.
“He creates spaces for all the rest. We need to use them. It’s not about giving him the ball, it’s about what happens when he’s running.”
Klopp’s approach is all about coming at you with the ball. Try and stop us. We are fast. We think fast. We recover fast. We’re still working on defending fast but I’m sure it’s possible.
For now, we can enjoy what is surely to be one of the most effective attacking bands in the league. A front three against Watford of Salah, Mané, and Roberto Firmino is about the speediest way of creating confusion in that Hornets nest as you can get.
Until tomorrow, then.