By Connor Varnish – @cvarn4
The 2017/18 season saw Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah pick up nearly every individual trophy and accolade there is to achieve for a footballer.
The Egyptian couldn’t stop scoring and couldn’t stop piling on the awards along the way – Player of the Month awards left and right, Player of the Season, Africa’s Player of the Year, the Puskas Goal of the year, and so on and so forth. Liverpool’s No.11 literally didn’t put a foot wrong the entire campaign.
Fast-forward to the 2018/19 campaign and some would have you believing Mo Salah’s form has taken a nosedive into mediocrity. Liverpool’s wide man turned striker has bagged 20 goals and assisted eight this season in all competitions and at the moment sits one goal behind in the race for the Golden Boot.
That doesn’t really sound like a slump to me considering it’s still only March and there’s plenty left to play for – despite what the mass media along with social media trolls may lead you to believe, Mo Salah is much more than just a finisher.
Salah, especially this season in my opinion, has displayed a constant threat with his sheer pace and control that in turn open up lanes that free the likes of Bobby and even more so for his African strike partner, Sadio Mané, who has played himself into being Liverpool’s most prolific goalscorer at the moment.
One doesn’t need to look further than even the last two matches to see just how well Salah really is performing, perhaps these last two games are a testament to how Salah’s current season is going – just because he’s not banging in goals every week doesn’t necessarily mean he’s not on the very top of his game.
Let’s start with Bayern Munchen away at the Allianz Arena in the Champions League Round of 16 –a typical 2018/19 performance more or less from Salah – looked dangerous but yet lacked that cutting edge in front of goal as he seemed to shoot when he should’ve passed or vice versa.
But of course, the Egyptian had to have his say in the match as his quality eventually shown through with a delicate chip with the outside of his left foot that found Mané at the back post to put a final nail in the coffin of Bayern’s Champions League hopes.
Fulham was essentially more of the same for Mo – he consistently pressured the opposition defence as he dribbled at Fulham’s back line at will, but again, couldn’t quite find a finishing touch when it mattered most.
Yet again, though, Mo found a way to play a part in what turned out to be the decisive moment Liverpool’s title charge as he swung a left-footed curled effort that directly led to the Fulham keeper spilling the rebound and dragging down Mane inside the box for a penalty as a result.
So yes, perhaps Mo hasn’t quite brought his shooting boots this year as compared to last, but the Egyptian is still finding ways to alter the course of a match.
Was he ever going to replicate what he did last year goal scoring wise? Probably not – but not even the likes of Sergio Aguero, Harry Kane, Luis Suarez, Thierry Henry, or Dider Drogba to name just a few have scored as many as Mohamed Salah in a single Premier League season.
The last international break of the season is upon us and it just so happens that Mo Salah has not travelled with the Egyptian national team. Hopefully this allows Mo a bit of time to rejuvenate and regain some form and freshness before Liverpool head into what appears to be the most important last few months to a season the Reds have had in quite some time.
With seven matches domestically to go and an important quarter-final draw with Portuguese leaders Porto in the Champions League, Mo will need to take advantage of the next week and a half or so to prepare himself for the final push.
If Liverpool are to do something special this year, as we all know they are capable of, Mo Salah will certainly have his say in the outcome and will undoubtedly play a massive role.
Sadio Mané has shouldered the burden of scoring at will in recent weeks, but Liverpool will need the likes of Bobby Firmino and especially Mohamed Salah to step up to the plate and iron out those minor struggles showing in the final third of the pitch.