Mohamed Salah Leads Liverpool to Top of EPL Table with Win vs. Bournemouth

James Dudko@@JamesDudkoFeatured ColumnistFebruary 9, 2019

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 09:  Georginio Wijnaldum of Liverpool celebrates after scoring his team's second goal during the Premier League match between Liverpool FC and AFC Bournemouth at Anfield on February 9, 2019 in Liverpool, United Kingdom.  (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
Alex Livesey/Getty Images

Liverpool returned to the top of the Premier League table on Saturday thanks to a 3-0 win over Bournemouth at Anfield.

Sadio Mane, Georginio Wijnaldum and Mohamed Salah scored the goals as the Reds put the pressure back on Manchester City—who host Chelsea on Sunday—in the title race.

   

Klopp Must Let Wijnaldum off the Leash More Often

Jurgen Klopp shouldn't have needed a reminder about Wijnaldum's superior quality going forward, but he still received an emphatic one courtesy of the midfielder's classy goal.

Everything about the goal summed up why Wijnaldum must be let off the leash and allowed to get forward more often by his manager. It started with the energy and sense of timing to break from a deep area and run beyond the front.

Wijnaldum's pace and power meant nobody in the Bournemouth midfield could stay with him. Then there was the polished technique typical of a Netherlands international.

His first touch to control Andy Robertson's pass over the top was exceptional. Yet it was merely the teaser for the main event, a delicate lob any marquee striker would have been proud to produce.

While the goal finally put Wijnaldum in double digits for the Reds, a player with this much talent in the final third should be scoring for fun:

Goals were never a problem for 28-year-old during prolific spells with PSV Eindhoven and Newcastle United. It's time for Klopp to let Wijnaldum be Wijnaldum.

His ability to break and support the forward line with goals can prove decisive in this tight title race.

       

Liverpool Can't Keep Carrying Roberto Firmino

Save for one admittedly slick backheel to tee up Salah to score, Roberto Firmino once again resembled a passenger in the Liverpool attack. The Brazil international couldn't find his range in front of goal during the early stages, with Artur Boruc twice denying him from close range.

Later, he wasted a glorious chance on the break, shooting straight at Boruc when one-on-one with the Bournemouth stopper.

Firmino also struggled to set his radar when creating chances. Through passes were cut out too easily, a major problem for a player asked to operate more as a No. 10 this season.

Firmino endured another mixed day.
Firmino endured another mixed day.PAUL ELLIS/Getty Images

While Firmino eventually redeemed himself with that sweet assist for Salah, Klopp must be concerned about the South American's growing profligacy. It's now just one goal in his last five league matches.

The 27-year-old was heavily criticised for a forlorn display against the Hammers on Monday night, with Jake Polden of the Daily Mirror chiding the forward for being "simply marked out of the game."

Bournemouth's defence was much more accommodating, but Firmino was still carried by the efforts of his team-mates for long periods. It's a luxury Liverpool can't afford in such an intense title race.

Klopp should give Daniel Sturridge or Divock Origi more chances to add greater potency up top.

   

What's Next?

Liverpool host Bayern Munich in the first leg of the UEFA Champions League last 16 on Tuesday, February 19. Meanwhile, Bournemouth will next be in action on Saturday, February 23, for a home game against Wolverhampton Wanderers.

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