Mohamed Salah hasn’t yet scored in the Premier League against Manchester United, but there’s plenty more to his game than just finding the net.
The Egyptian King has made a habit out of plundering goals since signing for Liverpool, though he has so far not celebrated against one of our main rivals.
This weekend is a chance to put that odd statistic to rest, but it’s far from the most important aspect of the game and will barely be one which registers for the player himself.
While certainly keen to score in every match, it’s an end to a means—helping the team and winning the title—which drives Salah, not the act of scoring itself.
Explaining the aberration of him not having scored against United, Salah told Sky Sports that they set up slightly differently to combat his impact.
“I think Manchester United play against me in a different way to some other players,” he said.
“They defend against me in a different way. It’s a challenge, but I’m happy about that. As long as the team are winning, I’m always happy.”
The No. 11 won’t simply be accepting that he’s up against an extra defender or faced with a low block, either.
Part of his approach is to find the best potential route to goal even before the game kicks off.
“For every game, I try to study the opponent before we play. I try to find in my head the way I’m going to score against them. I think it’s working well because I have scored many goals for the team. I think there’s a lot I am improving and there is a lot of room to improve more.”
Quite aside from finding the back of the net, though, Salah brings a lot to the team.
Even when not on top form he worries defences with his pace, his willingness to shoot, his ability to beat defenders and a deft touch when looking for team-mates—which has been used to great effect.
In fact, Sky’s analytics have Salah the highest in the Liverpool squad since his debut in each of chances created, open play chances created, big chances created, assists and expected assists.
That’s an indication not just of his attacking quality and consistency, but also of his vision and willingness to be a team player—something not always acknowledged if he takes on a few shots himself where team-mates are better placed.
“Sometimes people judge you only on your goals, but honestly, [the creativity] is something the gaffer thinks about and talks to me about a lot,” Salah continued.
“I think my team-mates are happy about it too. As long as I feel like am creating chances and giving assists for them, that’s great. Maybe people don’t focus much on that, but I like to give assists as well as score.
“In the last game against Tottenham, I gave Bobby [Roberto Firmino] an assist and I was really happy for him to score. Without assists – and I don’t just mean my assists – you can’t win games.”
Mo has five league assists to his name this term, plus another two in the Champions League.
And his interplay with Firmino and Sadio Mane—exchanging passes, positions and counter-attacking positions with them—is a huge part of what makes Liverpool such a dangerous team to face.
Another big performance from Mo at the weekend and Anfield is likely to be celebrating once more, whether it’s him who finds the back of the net or not.