Can Salah avoid unwanted Liverpool record against Manchester City?
The Reds striker made Champions League history this week and will hope to keep it up to avoid an unfavorable feat.
Mohamed Salah’s blank expression after scoring his first goal and Liverpool’s fourth on Wednesday night reflected the Reds’ overall mood this season.
Twelve minutes later, the Egyptian was beaming, rooting for Harvey Elliot’s disallowed goal, which was still being reviewed by VAR. It did stand, resulting in an outpouring of suppressed joy for Elliot, with Salah and Jurgen Klopp understandably overjoyed for the youngster who scored his first goal of the season.
Liverpool’s seventh goal in a rout of Rangers, a result that did not reflect the ‘Gers’ competitiveness for an hour before the eventual surrender.
For Salah, it was Champions League history made. His stunning treble that came within six minutes and 12 seconds had never been done in Europe’s premier club competition before Wednesday.
Despite his broadly reliable goalscoring on Merseyside, the Liverpool marksman’s name would not have been first in line had anyone put forward contenders for that record before match-day four’s games.
Indeed, it has been a slow 2022–23 season for the attacker by his standards.
His raw numbers before that devastating cameo at Ibrox had him on four goals and three assists in 11 appearances in all competitions, but the forward had looked out of sorts and underutilized despite the respectable goal involvement.
A cursory look at Salah’s underlying numbers — and his pressure map this season compared to previous campaigns with the Reds — showed he was spending so much time out wide, making it harder to score goals whilst simultaneously providing width.
Perhaps this precipitated Klopp’s post-match remarks, flavored with humor, praising the team’s best player.
“Different position, more inside,” said the laughing Liverpool boss to BT Sport. “He is an outstanding player; we all know that, and today he showed it, and it’s good.”
Indeed, Salah played more centrally in the 22-minute appearance in mid-week, playing in tandem with Diogo Jota in the Reds’ current 4-4-2, where he inevitably occupied the inside-right channel.
It remains to be seen what Klopp does with his star player when Manchester City visit Anfield on Sunday, especially as Rangers have shown that they are not a fitting barometer of the merits of the German tactician’s alterations.
Salah played out wide in the reverse fixture at Anfield but barely got a kick, and in a similar approach in the next Premier League game at Arsenal last time out, he touched the ball 21 times altogether and just once in the Gunners’ penalty area.
In fact, with the team’s leading attacker thriving alongside a strike partner, you wonder if the former Borussia Dortmund boss will give in to that temptation in the hope that Salah picks up where he left off against the Scottish giants in Sunday’s game on Merseyside.
Two goals in eight Premier League appearances tell one story, the failure to find the back of the net at Anfield tells another.
The Egyptian’s last league goal on home turf came in game week 38 of the previous season when he netted in the 3-1 success over Wolverhampton Wanderers that saw him share the Golden Boot but miss out on another league triumph.
On the one hand, the ongoing run is worrying: he has now matched his longest run without netting a league goal at Anfield, an unpleasant record from Liverpool’s forgettable 2020-21 campaign.
However, on the other hand, the fact that he has been on the receiving end of quality chances in those games gives hope to concerned supporters.
With the Newcastle United game an exception, four clear-cup opportunities have been missed in three fixtures—a header in the 1-1 draw with Crystal Palace, a pair of gilt-edged openings in the 9-0 annihilation of Bournemouth and another pair in the 3-3 draw with Brighton & Hove Albion—indicating it is only a matter of time before Salah ends this ongoing drought.
Coincidentally, Manchester City was the opponent when the Egyptian previously went four Premier League games at Anfield without scoring.
On that day, the forward scored from the spot to prevent that run from increasing to five, and he will fancy a repeat of finding the back of the net, even if the attacker will not want to rehash the eventual 4-1 defeat from that encounter.
That hammering was the Citizens’ only league win at Anfield in 19 visits, but the similarities in Liverpool’s decline in both campaigns make Pep Guardiola’s men favorites to record a rare win in the red half of Merseyside.
That is one record the Reds aim to continue on Sunday, and Salah’s scoring in the process will make a favorable result taste even sweeter.
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