Coming off a long 2017-18 season capped by an injury and an underwhelming World Cup, Mohamed Salah took some time getting up to speed at the start of the current season. Now that he’s gotten going, it’s hard to imagine there were ever any doubts.
Doubts that maybe last year’s goal return was a blip; whether it represented a level Salah couldn’t get back to. With the season two-thirds of the way through, he’s back leading the pack as the Premier League’s top goal scorer and with another 16 goals.
“His record’s brilliant, it really is,” said former Red Robbie Fowler, one of Liverpool’s greats in front of goal. “When you watch him play you just know you’re more or less guaranteed to get chances and obviously if he keeps getting chances he’s going to score.
“So getting to 50 Premier League goals, I think he was quicker than anyone in Liverpool’s history—and that in itself, when you think of the strikers we’ve had at the club, is incredible. Some of the goals last year and this year, he scores goals out of nothing.”
He’s also gotten most of those goals while not playing as an out-and-out striker, or at least not as a traditional one. Even as he’s shifted further forward this season, with Roberto Firmino dropping into more of a supporting role, he’s stayed shaded to the right.
He’s not been quite a striker and not been quite a winger, but he’s consistently found spaces in and around the final third—and scored goals. It’s not an approach, tactically, that would have been seen in Fowler’s era, but at the end of the day it’s been effective.
“Good players can play anywhere,” added Fowler. “Clever players can play anywhere and he epitomises a clever player. Football’s changed. Years ago, it was a nine and ten so you more or less had two, but now you play with a one or a three with lots of support.
“That’s the way football is, formations do change, but I think we’re reaping the benefits, because I think he’s proven that no matter where he is played in the final third of a formation, he’s always had chances and he’s always scored goals.”