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Salah almost back
Published in Al-Ahram Weekly on 25 - 10 - 2018

For the second time this season in the Premier League, Egyptian superstar Mohamed Salah came up with the only goal of the game to give Liverpool another valuable three points. After scoring the winner against Brighton in game week three, he did the same this week against a surprisingly solid and resilient Huddersfield side that sit 19th in the league table with three draws and six losses out of nine games played so far. Salah started the game alongside unfamiliar faces in the form of Xherdan Shaqiri and Daniel Sturridge as both Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino missed the game through injury and tactical reasons respectively. Shaqiri made the most of his chance when he set up Salah with a wonderful through ball in the 24th minute as the star winger finished expertly with his weaker right foot into the far corner much to the relief of the man himself. It was Salah's fourth league strike this season but his first in five games in all competitions which makes it much needed relief. Salah had another amazing chance to score in the second half but could not find the back of the net as his shot just missed the far corner from just inside the box.
This goal will surely give Salah a much needed boost as he bids to get back to his best as soon as he can. The next few games could easily serve his ambitions. Next up for Liverpool is Red Star Belgrade at home in the Champions League before facing a struggling Cardiff side in the league at home. If Salah can find the back of the net in these two games after netting the winning goal against Huddersfield, he will hopefully be back on track and back to his best after a difficult spell when the pressure to score apparently got the better of him.
Liverpool and Manchester are tied at the top of the league table with 23 points from nine games. City are ahead on goal difference. Chelsea are third with 21 points.
Even though Salah himself is denying he felt the pressure during his mini-goal drought, he must have felt a bit overwhelmed by the mass of people questioning his ability or saying he was a one-season wonder just because he went a few games without scoring. However, the pressure is always there on big players so Salah must get used to this and always answer on the pitch without making life difficult for himself as he did in the last few games when he just seemed to be trying a bit too hard.
What most people tend to forget is that Salah started last season in similar fashion before his brace against West Ham away from home in the 11th game week opened the floodgates. From that point on, Salah was unstoppable, scoring non-stop, seemingly at times for fun, until the end of the season. It is obvious that this season Salah is being marked ultra-closely by his opponents who are constantly keeping a close eye on him which makes perfect sense since he was recently voted the third best player in the world. People tend to forget quickly when it comes to football but Salah's four goals and three assists in nine league games are still a very decent return. Yes, it is no secret that Salah's performances are not as great as last season but he's just getting started after a turbulent few months, starting with his injury against Real Madrid in the final of the Champions League, a miserable World Cup performance by Egypt and his public bust-up with the Egyptian Football Federation over image rights.
Can Salah really kick-start his season now? Let's hope he does and let's hope he leads Liverpool to their first silverware in more than six years if they beat Cardiff in the final of the League Cup.


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