Mohamed Salah has been accused of taking the “easy option” during Liverpool’s goalless draw against Manchester United, with Graeme Souness claiming that the Reds’ previously fearsome front three have lost their spark.
The defending Premier League champions have gone three games in the English top-flight without a goal, with that barren run seeing the Merseyside outfit hit a 16-year low.
Firepower has rarely been an issue for Jurgen Klopp’s side, with success at home and abroad built on an ability to carve opponents open at will. Salah has often led the way, with the Egyptian forward becoming a two-time Golden Boot winner during his time at Anfield.
Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino have been prolific members of his supporting cast, while others have chipped in from across the pitch as assists rain down from Andy Robertson and Trent Alexander-Arnold on the flanks.
Flaws are being exposed in all of those areas at present, with Liverpool rarely looking like troubling the scorers during a drab home draw with United.
Souness concedes that the Reds are far from being “dangerous” at present, with Salah’s display against the Red Devils highlighting their lack of confidence.
The Liverpool legend told Sky Sports: “They’re defending the Premier League title. I think when you’re a manager, you have selective memory, you only remember the good stuff. The good stuff today for Liverpool was that they played football as they’ve been playing football, a makeshift centre-back pair that were fabulous.
“I think they got exposed as the game went on when the midfield in front of them stopped pressing as intensely as they had been.
“For me, the obvious downside is that the front three didn’t look dangerous today. Is that because Liverpool had so much of the ball and pushed the United defence back and they were on the 18-yard line, so there weren’t the areas to run in?
“They got back behind the ball very quickly, United, and give them great credit for that. They came here with a defensive head on, they were getting defensive jobs for people who don’t usually think like that, I’m thinking of (Bruno) Fernandes and (Paul) Pogba. So, they did a number on Liverpool.
“From Liverpool’s perspective, I think the manager will be happy. They’re sitting third in the league, they haven’t reached the heights of the last three years, he’ll be happy if that turns.
“Trying to be a neutral, the Liverpool trio (Salah, Mane and Firmino) didn’t get me on the edge of the seat and nine times out of 10, they do.
“There was an incident in the second half when Salah could’ve gone one-on-one with (Luke) Shaw, but he chose to come in and take the easy option. I think that says a lot about his performance today.”
Liverpool, who now sit behind Manchester rivals United and City in the Premier League table, will be back in action on Thursday when they play host to Burnley.
Over 120 fans die in Indonesia football stampede
At least 129 people have died in a stampede at an Indonesian football match, officials say, in one of the world’s worst stadium disasters.
The stampede happened after police tear-gassed rioting supporters.
About 180 were injured in the crush after Arema FC lost to bitter rivals Persebaya Surabaya in East Java.
The country’s chief security minister said that the number of spectators exceeded the stadium’s capacity by around 4,000 people.
President Joko Widodo has ordered that all matches in Indonesia’s top league must be stopped until an investigation has been concluded.
Videos show fans running on to the pitch after the final whistle.
Police then fired tear gas, leading to a crowd stampede and cases of suffocation, said Nico Afinta, police chief in East Java.
“It had gotten anarchic. They started attacking officers, they damaged cars,” he said, adding that two police officers were among the dead.
“We would like to convey that… not all of them were anarchic. Only about 3,000 who entered the pitch,” he said.
Fleeing fans “went out to one point at the exit. Then there was a build-up, in the process of accumulation there was shortness of breath, lack of oxygen”, he added.
Videos on social media show fans clambering over fences to escape. Separate videos appear to show lifeless bodies on the floor.
FIFA, the world’s governing football body, states that no “crowd control gas” should be carried or used by stewards or police at matches.
The Indonesian football association (PSSI) said it had launched an investigation, adding that the incident had “tarnished the face of Indonesian football”.
Violence at football matches is not new in Indonesia, and Arema FC and Persebaya Surabaya are long-time rivals.
Persebaya Surabaya fans were banned from buying tickets for the game because of fears of clashes.
But Chief Security Minister Mahfud MD posted on Instagram that 42,000 tickets had been sold for the match at the Kanjuruhan stadium, which has a capacity of 38,000.
President Widodo called for this to be the “last soccer tragedy in the nation” after ordering that all Liga 1 games should be paused pending an investigation.
Arsenal spank Tottenham 3-1 in London derby
Arsenal secured a vital 3-1 win over Tottenham at the Emirates Stadium on Saturday as goals from Thomas Partey, Gabriel Jesus and Granit Xhaka saw the Gunners triumph in the North London derby.
Mikel Arteta made two changes to the team that defeated Brentford last time out as Oleksandr Zinchenko and Martin Odegaard returned while Thomas Partey started after some injury concerns.
Arsenal dominated the opening exchanges and took the lead with 20 minutes gone through a Partey pearler.
Just nine minutes later, Harry Kane brought Spurs level after Gabriel brought down Richarlison to undo all of Arsenal’s good work. The visitors grew into the game after drawing level and headed into half-time with a share of the spoils.
Arsenal took the lead minutes into the second half. Bukayo Saka weaved his way into the box and hit his shot at Hugo Lloris who parried twice which allowed Jesus to poke home.
With 60 minutes gone, Spurs’ chances of taking something away from the game were dealt a blow when Emerson Royal was shown a straight red card for his challenge on Gabriel Martinelli.
Arsenal made their advantage pay as Granit Xhaka fired his shot low and across Lloris after some good work from Martinelli. The Gunners played out the remaining time without breaking a sweat to secure north London bragging rights.
Harry Kane’s leveller for Tottenham saw him set yet more scoring records, but his side self-destructed after halftime as their 12-year wait for a league win in the fixture continued. Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal have now won seven of their opening eight games and lead the standings by four points with second-placed Manchester City facing Manchester United on Sunday.
Lewandowski gives Barca slim victory in Mallorca
Robert Lewandowski was the hero once again for Barcelona as they fought to a 1-0 victory away at Mallorca.
The game started with Barca pulling weights to break the deadlock, and did eventually when Lewandowski curled in a fine shot into the bottom corner of the net in the 20th minute.
Barca then tried to kill off the game but could not find that second-goal cushion as Mallorca were defensively solid.
The host tried, on multiple occasions, to draw level but Marc Andre Ter Stegen continued his excllent form between the sticks for Barca as he denied their attempts to ensure Barca pick up maximum points and stay top of the league for at least, the night till Real Madrid play Osasuna on Sunday night.
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