EXCLUSIVE: Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp has been warned that Mohamed Salah’s sensational form is masking a concerning trend despite an unbeaten start to the Premier League season
Glen Johnson believes that Mohamed Salah ‘s sensational form has helped gloss over some shaky defending despite Liverpool enjoying an unbeaten start to the new Premier League season.
The Reds are currently perched in second spot in the league, just a point behind leaders Chelsea, and have yet to taste defeat in their 10 league games so far this term.
Much of Liverpool’s strong early-season form has been down to the magic of Salah, who has netted 15 goals in just 14 games.
But despite their attacking brilliance, it’s been a different story for the Reds’ rearguard.
Even the return of Virgil van Dijk hasn’t helped shore Liverpool up at the back, with Jurgen Klopp ‘s side throwing away a lead for the fourth time this season already in last weekend’s 2-2 draw with Brighton.
And former Reds right-back Johnson admits Liverpool have failed to hit their own high standards defensively.
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“I don’t think they’re as rock-solid as they have been,” Johnson exclusively told the Mirror.
“They’ve got very high standards and they set the bar high of course. By their standards, I don’t think a few of their players are at their best – but I don’t think they have to be at their best to win football matches.
“If they want to take this title race to the line and go deep in the Champions League then they will have to hit form at the right time. So I don’t think they’ve been as solid as they usually are, but they’re still performing well enough to win games.
“Anytime you’ve got players like [Salah] on the pitch, then you’re always gonna be a threat. He’s always going to peg teams back if you’ve got the ball, so it doesn’t matter if your defence isn’t on form anyway.”
Although Liverpool did put in a more assured defensive display in the 2-0 win over Atletico Madrid in midweek, there have been signs this season that the Reds defence hasn’t yet fully recovered from the trauma that decimated their campaign last year.
The 3-3 draw against Brentford last month saw Ivan Toney relentlessly bully Liverpool’s rearguard – something that’s very rarely been seen since van Dijk’s arrival back in 2018.
Even though Klopp’s side have managed six clean sheets in the league this season, there’ll be an air of concern over their actual displays at the back.
Although the Reds continue to plunder goals at a sensational rate, it remains to be seen if they can maintain those sky-high attacking outputs for the entire season – and that could derail Liverpool’s title bids if they can’t find their composure at the back.
Liverpool resume their league campaign with a trip to West Ham on Sunday.
The Hammers are flying high after a superb start to the season, with Johnson, who played for both sides after graduating from West Ham’s academy, believing
“It’s hard to look past Liverpool right now, isn’t it?” Johnson added.
“They’re 10 out of 10 at the moment and hard to stop. It’s two fine teams going into the game in good form.
“But I think West Ham are going to have to play out of their skin to get a draw.
“Liverpool at the moment are just blowing teams away and doing things relatively easily. So I think on the day Liverpool will probably have too much.”
Glen Johnson was speaking to the Mirror in conjunction with William Hill.
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