Thrilling win over Leeds only reaffirms Mo Salah’s importance to Liverpool FC

Jack Hallows looks back at Mohamed Salah’s stunning opening day performance in Liverpool FC’s 4-3 win over Leeds. 

I’ve said it before and you just know I’ll say it many more times again – thank you to the footballing gods for blessing us with Mohamed Salah.

The Egyptian has been the closest thing to Liverpool’s ‘main man’ for the better part of two and a half years now since Philippe Coutinho joined Barcelona in January, 2018, scoring and assisting goals for fun.

The goals took Salah’s overall tally to 97 in 154 appearances since his arrival at Liverpool from Roma in the summer of 2016 and Neville feels the 28-year-old is going from strength to strength at Anfield. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED BY YAHOO! SPORTS UK.

He loves an opening day fixture too, with this the fourth year in a row that the Egyptian king has netted on the first day of a new campaign and his hat-trick took his personal match-day one record to four appearances, six goals, two assists and 10 points.

It was a very good thing too, as aside from Salah, not many of the current reigning champions turned up for the game.

The Egyptian struggled during the Community Shield loss to Arsenal as without Trent Alexander-Arnold on the field, he was left heavily on the sidelines every time the Reds’ attacked, having to drop deep to even get a look at the ball.

His total touches – including his shootout penalty – on that day totalled just 31 and he managed just one effort on goal which was blocked by Tierney.

The Egyptian’s heat map – provided by WhoScored – shows just how deep the Reds’ no.11 had to come to get on the ball, with the Gunners restricting space for the forwards to run in behind and forcing Neco Williams to pass inside to a midfielder rather than up the flank.

Against Leeds, Salah was far more involved and had his 31st touch in the 26th minute.

Soccer Football – Premier League – Liverpool v Leeds United – Anfield, Liverpool, Britain – September 12, 2020 Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah scores their fourth goal to complete his hat-trick. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED BY REUTERS/PHIL NOBLE.

By the end of the game, the Egyptian King had managed 88, taking nine shots, completing seven dribbles, making one tackle and finding a teammate with 37 passes – four of these registering as key passes.

These stats showcase one thing – get Salah into the game as much as possible and he simply brings you goals.

Two came from the spot but he won one of those himself with a shot that looked destined to at very least test the keeper, while his goal from open play was the absolute definition of ‘top bins.’

A large part of his influence on the game has to be attributed to Alexander-Arnold being back to provide the width in Liverpool’s attack, allowing Salah to play essentially as a striker at times.

With Lionel Messi and his former Manchester United team-mate Ronaldo entering the twilight of their careers, Gary Neville. sees no reason why Salah can’t go on and establish himself as one of the world’s best. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED BY LFC LIVE.

If you have a look at his heat map – again, provided by WhoScored – the Egyptian’s hot spots are split between a traditional right-winger, high and wide, along with a right-sided inside forward – a position on the pitch that he wreaked absolute havoc from.

The performance certainly possessed shades of 2017/18 Salah when the Egyptian was given license to hang forward and run in behind, often either teeing up one of his onrushing fab three partners or lofting the ball delicately over opposition goalkeepers.

It clearly hurt Salah to miss out on the golden boot last season – mostly through his own wasteful finishing after the restart – but if this is how Jürgen Klopp has opted to use the Egyptian this season, then he’ll once again be right up there in the individual season goal tallies.

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