Five reasons why Salah was LFC's star man in August
Liverpool fans have not needed much time to grow fond of Mohamed Salah.
The Egypt international, a summer signing from AS Roma, showed in pre-season that he could easily carry his stellar form in Serie A last term into the new campaign with the Reds, scoring four goals in the team’s preparation games.
And that was just for starters.
Once the competitive action began, Salah hit the net three times in five outings in the Premier League and Champions League, combining with Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane to devastating effect.
So it came as little surprise that the No.11 was confirmed as the Standard Chartered Player of the Month for August today. His majority of the more than 30,000 votes cast by supporters was significant.
Here, we take a closer look at how Salah scooped the prize…
New signings are entitled to a settling-in period, the opportunity to find their bearings.
But Salah did not need one, marking his Premier League debut for Liverpool against Watford with an assist – having won a penalty for Firmino to convert – and a close-range finish in a game that Jürgen Klopp’s side were unfortunate to draw 3-3.
The 25-year-old formed part of a frightening front three with Firmino and Mane that has been pivotal to the Reds securing four consecutive victories since that opener at Vicarage Road.
Salah helped himself to a goal in each of the hauls at home to Hoffenheim and Arsenal, with the latter a spectacular exhibition of pace after he robbed possession from the last man on the halfway line and sprinted through to net.
Blink and you will miss him. Just play the clip below for evidence.
“He has defended 500 per cent more already than he did in the whole of last season,” Klopp commented towards the end of the month, referencing an adjustment in position for Salah.
Often used as a second striker at Roma, the versatile forward has been stationed wide in a three-man attack for Liverpool – with an emphasis from the bench for pressing, persistence and pickpocketing of defences.
“You can see Mo is on the way there,” the manager said. “[He is] not that used to it, not using the body that much. He’s a different player to Sadio: same speed, but a different player.
“He played a completely different position last season. He is a winger – he can play this.”
As mentioned above, the Egyptian has immediately set his goalscoring tally in motion.
The reaction finishes against Watford and Hoffenheim showed Salah’s hunger inside the box, while the one-man counter-attack that stunned Arsenal was completed by a cool, clinical side-foot into the bottom corner.
Three in five is an impressive start for any new recruit, and the man himself would be the first to admit his total should actually be higher given the amount of chances that came his way during August.
In his 205 minutes of Premier League action for the Reds so far, Salah has had 12 shots – eight on target – and the early evidence suggests he is capable of surpassing the total of 15 Serie A strikes he notched in Roma colours last term.
Once Liverpool had sealed the acquisition of Salah in June, Klopp was regularly asked how the attacker might fit into a forward line that had Mane as a fixture on the right hand side in 2016-17 when fit and available.
The answer has been to switch the Senegalese to the left, deploy his fellow African on the right and continue with Firmino as the central figure of the trident.
And how it has worked.
Each of three has scored three times so far this season, while the interplay between the trio and the supporting midfielders behind them pulled apart the backlines of Hoffenheim and Arsenal in particular.