Liverpool have yet to secure a place in the top four of the Premier League this season. That is the minimal aim and if the club fail to beat Real Madrid in the Champions League final and fall out of the top four, there will be no Champions League football at Anfield next season.
The game at Chelsea on Sunday was the opportunity for Liverpool to secure their top four place and focus on the Champions League final.
Things did not go to plan and some low-key performance stats from Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane saw Liverpool lose the match 1-0 at Stamford Bridge. With just one game remaining for Liverpool in the Premier League, they have work left to do and that’s less than ideal ahead of the game against Real Madrid.
Photo credit: Дмитрий Голубович Creative commons license
However, there was one striking moment which came out of the match against Chelsea and that was the booking Salah received for diving.
Salah has made all the right noises following his move from Roma in the summer. Salah’s stats are nothing short of phenomenal and the way he has adapted to the Premier League has been tremendous.
In last couple of weeks, there have been signs Salah could be tiring as the level of his performances have not matched that of earlier in the campaign. Perhaps this is what led the Egyptian international to take a tumble against Chelsea on Sunday afternoon.
With Chelsea leading the match 1-0, Salah took the ball across the edge of the penalty area and Gary Cahill moved towards the Liverpool forward. Cahill did not make a challenge for the ball and stood with his hands raised as Salah fell to the floor.
There was clearly no contact between the two players and even if Salah was falling in anticipation of being fouled, it was still a dive.
Referee, Anthony Taylor, wasted little time in cautioning Salah and it was a deserved yellow card. There was little surprise in the booking but after the match, there was a shock as Jurgen Klopp did not come to the defence of his star player.
Instead of sitting on the fence and saying he did not see the incident or pretending there was slight contact, Klopp said “It was a dive or he waited for the contact. I’m not sure,” before continuing, “That’s not what I want to see, that’s not what he wants to do. It happened.”
It’s rare for a manager to come out and criticise his own player for diving and it remains to be seen if this has an impact on the relationship between Salah and Klopp.
However, with a top four place and the Champions League to play for, any differences must be put aside as Liverpool aim to end the season on a high.