Liverpool cannot underestimate the disruptive effect of being forced to change even one of their front three, according to one ex-Reds player.
Last year’s Champions League finalists are unbeaten in the Premier League so far this year but their prolific trio of Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino, before last night, were yet to reproduce the form that propelled them to a showdown with Real Madrid.
And former Liverpool defender Nick Tanner reckons the injury-enforced changes to the starting line-up will inevitably have an effect.
“Like an engine spluttering at the moment they are, waiting to get into top gear. They’re getting through games but they’re not playing at 100 per cent,” Tanner told Ian Stone’s Comedy Breakfast (weekdays 6.30am-10.30am) yesterday.
“You can’t win! I saw Klopp’s press conference [on Tuesday] and there was someone who kept asking ‘in the last so many Champions League games, you’ve let in so many goals’ and I was wondering whether that is relevant to the game now.
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“It’s this season, it’s another season and those games they actually got through and that’s what Klopp was trying to say.
“In those moments when they played Roma, they scored all those goals and they let a few in but they got the job done and got through.
“They’ve just got to get through the group which I think they will in the top two - if not winning it - and then just carry on.
“It proves a point about how important the front three are because they’re so used to playing together that when other people come in it is like starting again in a different way of playing. “Daniel Sturridge is not so mobile and neither is Shaqiri. Our strongest team is fantastic but we haven’t had them all firing on all cylinders.”
Last night, the Reds produced one of their most fluid performances of the season as they beat Red Star Belgrade 4-0 at Anfield to move top of their Champions League group.
Salah scored twice with Firmino and Mane also finding the net and Klopp was glad of the opportunity to put any doubts about his Egyptian talisman to bed."It's good that we can maybe stop talking about that a little bit," Klopp said.
"I was not in doubt, he was not in doubt, but if you are constantly asked about it, you think something is up.
"You should not think about it, you should not constantly think about how can I score again?
"It only happens if you work hard, if you are in the right spaces, if your team-mates see you in the right moments and if you make the right runs, then you can score. It is an exceptional number and hopefully he can continue."
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