The last time Mohamed Salah scored against Wolves in front of The Kop, he raced away in a state of delirious euphoria. On the final day of last season, he was convinced the shot that broke the visitors’ resistance had won Liverpool the league.
There was nothing so dramatic eight months on, following this latest goal against the same opponents, but his celebrations were similarly full of emotion. Salah stuck out his right thigh to give Liverpool three important points in the pursuit of the top four then hared away, roaring his relief.
This was significant moment. Here was the Egyptian moving on to 20 goals in all competitions for the campaign once more. It’s the sixth year in succession he has reached the figure and while the statistic may be greeted with a shrug of indifference in some parts, it must be acknowledged.
To reach 20 once again, Salah now stands alongside Ian Rush, Gordon Hodgson and Roger Hunt. They are the four players who have managed to have such consistency and longevity in front of goal in the club’s history; Rush went beyond 20 nine times, Hodgson and Hunt did it on seven occasions.
What makes Salah bundling in on Wednesday night a little different, though, is the fact he and Rush are the only men to do six seasons consecutively. It takes him on to 176 goals (in 290 games) and the rate he is climbing the club’s all-time scoring chart is remarkable.
Mohamed Salah's 20th goal of the season boosted Liverpool's hopes of a top four finish
Salah is rapidly closing in on a place in the top five in Liverpool's all-time scoring chart
Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson, right, has described Salah as a immaculate professional
Robbie Fowler (183) and Steven Gerrard (186) are the next figures whom Salah will leapfrog – already this season he has usurped Michael Owen and Sir Kenny Dalglish – and, when he does, he will have a place in the top five.
Who would have predicted he would achieve such things when he arrived from Roma for £36.9m in 2017? Nobody. All that happened then were questions about whether Liverpool had spent too much, whether someone who had floundered at Chelsea could ever sparkle on Merseyside.
‘Mo is an obsessive about the game and that’s where we are kindred spirits,’ Jordan Henderson wrote in his recently-published autobiography, to given an insight into the Egyptian’s character. ‘He’s always first in the gym and he lives for football.
‘He is an immaculate professional, all about the detail. I can relate to that. Mo is constantly thinking about how to improve recovery to make sure that he is ready for the next game. I’ve learned a lot from him and he has helped me extend my playing time.’
Salah will have been straight into the swimming pool late last night, aiming to be firing on all cylinders for the crucial visit of Manchester United on Sunday. The importance of this game cannot be underestimated if Liverpool, somehow, are going to finish in the top four.
The perception around Salah this season is that he has taken it easier, having signed a new contract last July – the biggest Liverpool have ever awarded to a player. He has scored nine Premier League goals so far, compared to 19 on the same date 12 months ago.
It’s nonsense, of course. Salah might not have had a performance that has had everyone rushing for superlatives, the kind that had him highlighted as potential Ballon d’Or winner in the autumn of 2021, but his importance cannot be understated.
The Egyptian talisman's importance to Jurgen Klopp's side cannot be understated
Salah has scored three times in five games with the star appearing to have turned a corner
Those nine goals have been worth six points – the difference from being sixth and tenth – and the feeling is that, like the team as a whole, he is starting to turn the corner. He’s scored three times in five games and the electricity is there in his running once more.
His strike lanced the tension in the Merseyside derby, his quick thinking and directness caused goalkeeper Nick Pope to short circuit at Newcastle and sticking out his thigh against Wolves nudged Liverpool’s confidence in the right direction again.
If Salah is out of form with 20 goals, what is he going to be like when he really starts playing well? Liverpool are going to need every big character playing at maximum capacity for the next three months to reach the positions they want to be and Salah is firmly in that bracket.
The closer he gets to landmarks, the hungrier he seems to become: if that continues to be the case, Jurgen Klopp’s squad may yet extricate themselves from this sticky situation.
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