Klopp admits Salah substitution was tactical but defends 'world-class' forward

Mohamed Salah was substituted during a poor performance against Chelsea, but Jurgen Klopp has no fears about the Liverpool forward's form.

Liverpool forward Mohamed Salah   -  Getty Images

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp admits he took off Mohamed Salah against Chelsea due to his poor performance but insists he is not worried about his overall form.

Salah, winner of the PFA Players' Player of the Year, Fans' Player of the Year and Football Writers' Player of the Year awards last season, has struggled to replicate those performances in 2018-19.

The Egypt international spurned two half-chances in the first half of Saturday's 1-1 draw with Chelsea, and found it difficult to link up with Roberto Firmino before being replaced by Xherdan Shaqiri in the second period.

Salah has only scored three times in all competitions this term, but his manager insists he remains "a world-class player" who will come through his difficult run.

"[The substitution] was tactical, he was not injured. It was not Mo's best game of his career, 100 per cent," Klopp told a news conference.

"But coming in a game like this, constantly in situations like he comes in, that makes a world-class player. You fail, you miss, whatever, that happens. No problem with that.

"But I want him so that he wants to be decisive, to score in these situations. You could see the first ball he missed a bit, it was not in the right position, and the next ball he passed! Why? He could have shot.

"It's like riding a bike. It's not that you wake up in the morning and you can't finish, you can't ride a bike any more. That's how it is. You need to work for these moments when it's clicking. That's the period he's in; no problem with that."

Liverpool rescued a point thanks to Daniel Sturridge's stunning 89th-minute strike, after Eden Hazard had put the home side ahead in the first half.

Klopp felt a draw was the least his team merited after a good performance, which came just three days on from their 2-1 EFL Cup defeat to Maurizio Sarri's side.

"I cannot understand how somebody can ask me that question!" he said when asked if the point was deserved. "We deserved to win!

"It's all good with the result. Both teams deserve a point, we only had more chances, like we did on Wednesday. But Chelsea is a super team and it is quite difficult to play them, but I thought we did it in a really impressive way, to be honest.

"It's how football is, how life is. A good football team, which we are, creates chances. Sometimes you use them and sometimes you miss, that's how it is.

"I spoke a lot about Chelsea and how good they are, but we defended it brilliantly. And we played good football as well. Coming in these situations in the box is really not simple against a quality side like Chelsea, and we still did it like six or seven times.

"I'm completely fine, really. I want us to respond, react, perform. But I saw a really good performance from my side in a difficult game after we'd lost on Wednesday against them. We gave them one proper chance, they used it and we didn't use ours. That's how life is.

"I really liked the game today. Come on, that's how football should be, not 1-0 and one team controls the game and the other doesn't want to attack. That was really a big race for both. I loved that."