Salah one of three Liverpool stars blamed for draw in damning criticism

Liverpool legend Steve Nicol has rested the blame for the Reds’ disappointing draw with West Brom on the shoulders of their attacking front three.

So often the men to pull Liverpool through, Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah could not escape criticism following the tie at Anfield, which finished 1-1 after the Baggies grabbed a late equaliser.

West Brom had sat back and put men behind the ball in numbers to stifle Liverpool’s normally exuberant, free-flowing attack, and kept within touching distance for the whole match.

Aside from Sadio Mane’s early opener, the hosts had little to shout about in terms of chances, before Semi Ajayi’s header levelled the scoring after 82 minutes.

Despite efforts to try and restore their lead, Liverpool were unable to get their noses in front again, and Nicol offered a scathing assessment of their front line trio after the match.

Mohamed Salah was slammed for his performance against West Brom
Mohamed Salah was slammed for his performance against West Brom

“We have applauded this front, three patted them on the back, said how brilliant they are, how they can produce something from nothing,” Nicol told ESPN. “And you know what, these are the sorts of games where you have to earn that sort of praise.

“It’s one thing to go and play in a big atmosphere against the big teams and you turn it on and it’s razzle dazzle, but when it comes to down to the nitty gritty, Mane, Firmino and Salah for me are the reason Liverpool didn’t win the game.

“Yes Mane scored the goal, but after that, particularly Salah, who dribbled at an opponent about 15 times, stood on it about four or five times and gave it away – wasn’t at it. Bobby Firmino – wasn’t at it.

“So if you want to take all the praise, you’ve got to take the criticism, because with the amount of the ball the rest of the team got to the three of them, it’s up to them to produce and they didn’t produce.”

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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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Mane had showed a real striker’s instinct to put Liverpool ahead, chesting down Joel Matip’s pass before applying a clinical finish past Baggies’ keeper Sam Johnstone.

Liverpool had enjoyed the lions share of possession in the first half and dominated proceedings, but failed to make it count further and slacked off after the break.

As the game wore on, West Brom had a few glimpses of goal, prior to Ajayi heading in off the post with little time left on the clock.

Firmino almost won it for Liverpool with a header of his own, but Johnstone got down superbly to tip the ball round the post, and the points were shared despite the Reds mustering 17 shots on goal, though only two were on target.

Speaking after the game, Jurgen Klopp refused to make excuses for the result, admitting: “It does feel like a defeat but we have a point more than before, so it is completely fine in that sense.

“The problem we have is that West Brom deserved their point and that is our fault.

Who failed to deliver for Liverpool against West Brom? Have your say below.

Firmino sees his late header tipped round the post by Johnstone
Firmino sees his late header tipped round the post by Johnstone

“The first half was a really strange game with something like 90-100% possession for us and a system I am not sure I have seen very often before.

“It is a massive challenge to stay on track and keep doing it again but we should have done it again. It is also a challenge for West Brom to defend like they did for 90 minutes.

“They had more situations at the start of the second half than in the whole of the first half.

“We could have sorted that with the right runs and passes but we didn’t. That is why it is our fault in the end and why it is 1-1 instead of 2-0 or 2-1. We have to accept that and we do.”

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