Mohamed Salah is “out of sorts” for Liverpool and Jurgen Klopp’s front three are not “clicking in the same way” as part of a long-ball system, says Stephen Warnock.
The Reds have enjoyed an unbeaten start to their 2018-19 Premier League campaign, with 13 games safely negotiated so far.
They have, however, stumbled to the brink of Champions League elimination following a 2-1 defeat to Paris Saint-Germain on Wednesday.
Questions have been asked of their ability to replicate the free-flowing football which made them so exciting last season, with Warnock of the opinion that key men are not firing – regardless of claims to the contrary.
The former Reds defender told BBC Sport: “I just don't feel that the Liverpool's front three are clicking in the same way they have done in the past.
“Sadio Mane was outstanding against PSG, and was the one Liverpool forward who looked up for the fight. He got into some good areas, ran at his full-back whenever he could and tried to make things happen.
“But Roberto Firmino was very poor. He did not hold the ball up, or do his usual job of bringing other people into play. Too many passes were misplaced, and his touch was not great.
“And I know everyone is talking about Mohamed Salah being back in form, but I don't see it myself. I still think he is out of sorts - he is trying to play as an individual and is not enough of a team-player - and that was the case on Wednesday night too.”
Warnock believes a change in approach from Klopp is responsible for Liverpool’s slight regression, with more emphasis being placed on defensive solidity than attacking flair.
He added: “As good as Liverpool's midfield three are at protecting their back four and making it difficult for the opposition, they do not get forward much.
“That is the biggest difference between this season and last, and is part of the reason why their defensive record is so good.
“Every time Liverpool go forward now, James Milner and Georgino Wijnaldum hold back when, previously, the team would have midfield runners going beyond their front three.
“That occupied opposition defenders and freed up space for Mane, Firmino and Salah - but it does not happen as often anymore, and it is an element they have lost from their attack.”
Warnock said of a supposed long-ball approach from the Reds: “Instead of the dynamic and intricate inter-play we saw from them last season, when they were trying to find the front three with 10 or 15-yard passes, they are playing balls up to them from 30 or 35 yards instead.
“That is not the kind of play you would associate with Liverpool but it is a change Klopp made in pre-season and he has carried it through the start of this campaign.
“It has been effective in the Premier League - Liverpool are second, still unbeaten and have only conceded five goals in their first 13 games - but it has not worked for them away from home in Europe.”
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