Jurgen Klopp is about to unleash a new devastating partnership

Mohamed Salah and Darwin Nunez played in the Premier League together for the first time during Saturday's draw with Fulham.

Saturday marked the beginning of a new era for Jurgen Klopp at Liverpool.


After enjoying the fruits of Sadio Mane, Mohamed Salah, and Roberto Firmino’s labor over the previous five seasons, the famed trio – who will be remembered as one of the finest Anfield has ever seen – was broken up earlier this summer following the former’s £35 million move to Bayern Munich.

It provided an opportunity for Liverpool and Klopp to rethink their offensive strategy as they seek to build on their recent domestic and European success. And, with each of the Reds’ former trio turning 30 last season, Klopp was tasked with bringing in a younger attacking option who could act as a long-term replacement for Firmino, who has less than a year left on his current Anfield contract and has yet to agree on new terms.

Darwin Nunez’s £64 million transfer from Benfica gave Liverpool a new way to attack, as the Uruguayan became the club’s first traditional No.9 since Christian Benteke’s £32.5 million move from Aston Villa in 2015.


The Reds’ first game of the season, a tense 2-2 draw with newly promoted Fulham, provided plenty of clues as to how the 23-year-old will operate alongside Luis Diaz and Salah as part of a new-look trio for the coming season.

Since Salah’s arrival from AS Roma in the summer of 2017, Klopp has mostly used a 4-3-3 formation at Anfield. However, given the importance of Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson in attack – the pair combined for 115 assists in those five years – Salah and Mane had tended to position themselves extremely narrowly in the attacking third to allow the flying full-backs room to operate on their respective flanks.


Complemented by Firmino’s intelligence in a ‘false nine’ role, in which the Brazilian frequently dropped in opposition pockets to orchestrate the Reds’ build-up play, the African duo enjoyed great success, winning the Premier League Golden Boot on four separate occasions.

Despite the small sample size of Nunez’s time as a Liverpool player thus far, with the former Benfica man coming off the bench in his first two competitive appearances to clock up just over 70 minutes of action, Saturday’s match at Craven Cottage suggested that Salah may be about to benefit from a change in the Reds’ system this season.

Nunez was introduced with Liverpool trailing 1-0 to Marco Silva’s side after 50 minutes in West London, and he made an immediate impact on his Premier League debut. The 23-year-old caused havoc for the Whites’ defenders with his peeling runs off the shoulder and relentless movement inside the box, and he flicked home an equalizer less than 15 minutes after coming off the bench.

It was a fine finish that opened Liverpool and Nunez’s account for the new season, but it was his link-up play with Mohamed Salah that provided great insight into how the pair could form a wonderful relationship while teammates.

Following the Uruguayan’s introduction after a difficult first half, Salah moved closer to the touchline and took up a wider position than has become expected of him during his second spell in English football.


Furthermore, the simultaneous introduction of midfielder Harvey Elliott, who occupied the half-space superbly, allowed the Egyptian to roam free for long stretches of the second half as Fulham full-back Antonee Robinson was tasked with stepping into midfield to try to stifle the 19-year-shining old’s impact.

The consequences of Liverpool’s No.11 pulling out wide were amplified by the Reds’ first goal [pictured below], in which Salah was given the freedom of the River Thames after Elliott played him through. Instead of cutting inside into a more central position, as had previously been the case with the Egyptian, Salah’s wide position allowed him to perfectly pick out Nunez with a right-footed pass across the Whites’ penalty area, which the Uruguayan converted with delicacy.

Full-backs During a disappointing 45 minutes for Klopp’s side, Kenny Tete and Robinson did well in keeping Firmino, Diaz, and Salah relatively quiet; however, Nunez’s arrival took the focus off the Reds’ wide forwards, as the former Benfica man then occupied large parts of Fulham’s defense single-handedly.

Salah can be seen in the image below just moments before teeing up James Milner to fire a cross into the Fulham penalty area, which resulted in Diaz prodding just wide. However, the video still shows Nunez occupying the attention of Fulham’s defenders at the back post, giving Salah more space out on the right side.

Of course, the Egyptian would not finish the first day of the Premier League season without scoring, a feat he has accomplished in all six of his seasons since leaving the Italian capital.

Despite the fact that Salah benefited from playing in a more central position this time, as Alexander-Arnold whipped a wonderful ball into the box, it was his presence alone that drew defenders Tim Ream and Tosin Adarabioyo out of position. This gave Nunez the opportunity to bring the ball down and set up his teammate for the Reds’ second equalizer of the afternoon.


Later in the half, there was a further example of Liverpool’s attacking versatility as Salah, once more, took up a wide position next to Elliott and Alexander-Arnold – formng a right-sided triangle which had become a key part of their tactical makeup last campaign. The Egyptian and the 19-year-old England youth international dragged three players out wide as they searched for a later winner at Craven Cottage.

Elliott would eventually set the ball back to Jordan Henderson to cannon a fine effort off the top of the crossbar deep into stoppage time, but as Liverpool searched for a winner it was telling that Salah was out wide rather than in the box.

It’s still early days of what is hoped to be a long and successful career in Red for Nunez, but already during his two competitive cameos he has demonstrated why he and Salah could be about to form an unpredictable relationship in the final-third as Liverpool enter the latest era of Klopp’s tenure.

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