The goals haven’t come for Mohamed Salah of late. It’s been impossible not to notice, even if Salah has continued to play some quite exceptional football along the way—something manager Jürgen Klopp has been quick to point to.
Against Burnley last week, Klopp singled out Salah as the “best player on the pitch” despite that he didn’t register a goal or assist. And that belief in Salah extends to the rest of the players in the squad, including Virgil van Dijk.
“Mo is a world-class player,” the Dutch defender told the club’s official website this week when asked about Salah not having scored a goal since February 9th. “I think all the teams in the Premier League would love to have him.
“We have him and I think he is playing well. The goals will come. That’s something for a striker that is maybe going to be in your head but we tell him every time, you just need to keep working, keep going and you will be fine. “
While Salah has gone seven games in all competitions without a goal, he has continued to put in solid performances with strong underlying numbers—while his play, and the attention it draws from defenders, helps to free up room for others.
Sadio Mané deserves massive amounts of praise for stepping up to score the goals he has in the new year, but it’s hard to imagine him doing as well as he has without Salah drawing the kind of attention he does week in and week out.
And that, really, is part of why Liverpool have been so successful—this season and last. The fact that, between Salah and Mané and Roberto Firmino, their attack is nearly indefensible. That while you might stop one, you won’t stop them all.
More than that, the individual quality of all three demands the opposition scheme and double up coverage on whichever they see as the biggest threat, and that in turn means more one-on-one chances for one of the others.
The goals will come for Salah, sooner or later. He’s too good a player for them not to. But even while they aren’t, he’s still playing well—and his presence is helping to give others, in particular right now Mané, a better chance to excel.
Or maybe the real issue is Salah shaving off his beard following the goal on February 9 and, while he’s since grown it back, his new beard simply lacks the magic of the old one. Which would pose something of a conundrum moving forward.
If that, somehow, is it, then perhaps it just needs a re-set. A fresh growth. A spot of the old turning it off and then on again. I mean, it probably couldn’t hurt. Just in case that’s it.