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Liverpool analysis – Jurgen Klopp confronted with transfer reality, as three players offer hope

Talking points from Ian Doyle after Liverpool's 2-2 draw away to Fulham in the Premier League

Klopp facing transfer reality

The moment Thiago Alcantara’s hand moved gingerly to his left hamstring, the question that has followed Jurgen Klopp around all summer was once again being aired.

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Do Liverpool need to sign a new midfielder?

Klopp has long grown tired of batting away the inquiry. This time, though, there is genuine urgency with the Reds already without Curtis Jones and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain for the foreseeable ahead of a relentless first half to the season.

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Of course, based on this performance, some might conclude that the engine room requires a fresh injection regardless. Thiago was already below par before his injury, with Fabinho rusty and Jordan Henderson fading.

With five substitutions now permitted in the Premier League, James Milner, making his 200th league appearance for the Reds, made a positive difference from the bench and may find himself gaining regular minutes during the first half of the season.

Liverpool, according to Klopp, are only interested in transfers that make sense, especially given the options they have when they are available.

However, if Thiago is ruled out for an extended period of time, they would be remiss not to actively seek reinforcement this month. The timer is ticking.

Salah and Elliott combine as Diaz offers hope

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New season, same old Mohamed Salah. And, not for the time time, how Liverpool were grateful.

The Egyptian’s customary goal on the opening day – that’s a record six years in a row now – prevented a difficult afternoon from being even more damaging.

But for much of the first half, his team-mates were doing their level best to test Salah’s patience with a succession of ambitious or poorly-executed passes that gave the Egyptian little with which to work. Salah may be good, but he’s no miracle worker.

For good reason, though, was he Liverpool’s sharpest and most dangerous player during pre-season, contract uncertainty banished, determined to atone for what, by his standards, has been an underwhelming year this far.

Salah began to become more influential, chipping away at Fulham defensive duo Antone Robinson and Tim Ream and, along with Darwin Nunez, elevating the attacking efforts of his teammates. For his efforts in the second half, he was rewarded with an assist and a goal.

On the other flank, Luis Diaz’s performance mirrored his own pre-season, beginning quietly – despite striking the woodwork with a curling effort – but becoming increasingly dangerous as the game progressed before tiring. Salah, on the other hand, is still the man.

Matip steps up

The opening seconds provided a warning of what was to come for Liverpool.

As the visitors kept possession across the backline, Joel Matip fed the ball right to Trent Alexander-Arnold and implored his team-mate to roll it towards Alisson Becker.

Instead, the England man ignored the call and attempted a forward pass that was charged down by Fulham and eventually led to a shot hit tamely wide by Aleksander Mitrovic.

It set the tone for a first half in which the alertness of Matip did much to prevent Liverpool facing an even greater half-time deficit. Joe Gomez will have his opportunities but, with Ibrahima Konate out for some time, Matip is again the chief centre-back partner for Virgil van Dijk.

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Liverpool could point to Jordan Henderson possibly being fouled in the build-up to Fulham’s opener and Mitrovic making a right meal of any contact with Van Dijk for the penalty.

But there could be few quibbles with the final outcome. Any solace can be taken from the fact surely the Reds can’t play any worse this season.

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