Our Liverpool blogger Dave Tindall has fallen in love – and his name is Mo Salah. But just how do the Egyptian’s stats compare to that of the club’s other recent goalscoring greats?
With a simple swish of his left boot, Mo Salah fired home his 32nd goal of an incredible first season at Liverpool to send us on the way to a routine 2-0 win over Newcastle.
The records keep tumbling and it’s hard to keep track but, for me, one now stands out a mile.
It’s still only March and yet the Egyptian wizard has scored more goals this season than the great Luis Suarez managed in his best campaign at LFC.
True, all Suarez’s 31 goals came in the Premier League in the near-miss season in 2013/14 under Brendan Rodgers and Salah has (I can’t possibly use the word ‘only’) 24 in the top-flight so far.
But seven, and counting, in the Champions League and an FA Cup goal (24+7+1) take Salah to 32, one more than Suarez’s 31 in 2013/14 and two in front of the Uruguayan’s 30 in 2012/13.
Is this really happening?!!
Nabbing Suarez from Ajax for £22.8m in the 2011 transfer window looked exciting at the time and it wasn’t long before we realised it was one of greatest bits of business in the history of LFC. He was unstoppable, genuinely world-class for a couple of his seasons and his departure left a massive void.
It seemed a flight of fantasy that we could ever land someone like him in the current market with prices sky-rocketing and other clubs boasting superior spending power but somehow we’ve pulled a rabbit from a hat again.
Earlier this season against last Saturday’s same opponents, Newcastle, we were still craving the idea of a 30-goal a season hitman after spurning a hatful of good chances in a 1-1 draw. Turns out we had one right under our noses – the magnificent Salah.
It’s natural, then, to indulge in the game of ‘who’s best?’ but before I expand on the Salah v Suarez argument, let’s start with some comparisons to other seasons as they highlight just where he sits in the pantheon of great Liverpool goalscorers.
Top scorers (all comps) in last 10 years at LFC
2016/17 Sadio Mane/Philippe Coutinho (13)
2015/16 Roberto Firmino (10)
2014/15 Steven Gerrard (9)
2013/14 Luis Suarez (31)
2012/13 Luis Suarez (23)
2011/12 Luis Suarez (10)
2010/11 Dirk Kuyt (13)
2009/10 Fernando Torres (18)
2008/09 Steven Gerrard (16)
2007/08 Fernando Torres (24)
The drop-off after Suarez left was staggering in hindsight and it’s hard to believe our top goalscorer the season after he departed (Gerrard) didn’t even reach double figures.
In fact, add together the goals of the top scorers in the last three seasons and you get 32 (9+10+13) which is how many Salah has now!
Top LFC scorers in Premier League (since it started in 1992)
31 Suarez (2013/14)
28 Fowler (1995/1996)
25 Fowler (1994/1995)
24 Torres (2007/2008)
Salah is now level with Torres on 24 and has Fowler’s tallies of 25 and 28 in his sights. To eclipse both the Spanish sensation and ‘God’ would be astonishing.
Next up, a direct comparison with the two golden seasons of Suarez.
Suarez 31 goals (2013/14)
4 goals in a game x 1
3 goals in a game x 2
2 goals in a game x 6
1 goal in a game x 9
Suarez scored in 18 matches. We won 16 and played out 3-3 draws in the other two! His goals made a massive difference. A true talisman.
Suarez 30 goals (2013/14)
3 goals in in a game x 2
2 goals in a game x 4
1 goal in a game x 16
When Suarez scored that season, the impact wasn’t as significant. He netted in four more games than the following campaign but of those 22 matches we only won 50%. The figures were W11, D8, L3. Not his fault of course.
Salah 32 goals (2017/18)
2 goals in a game x 6
1 goal in a game x 20
What jumps off the page is that Salah has scored in 26 games. Four more than Suarez ever managed and, in fact, one clear of the previous record shared by Salah and Daniel Sturridge.
Of those 26 matches, we’ve won 17, drawn seven and lost just two. Salah’s goals carry their weight in gold even if he spreads them more thinly (no hat-tricks yet) than Suarez did.
Let’s drill down a level and break the stats into even smaller pieces.
Goals per minute
Salah in 2017/18 = goal every 92 minutes
Suarez in 2013/14 = goal every 105 minutes
Suarez in 2012/13 = goal every 121 minutes
Suarez in 2011/12 = goal every 191 minutes
Kane in 2017/18 = goal every 100 minutes
So, who wins out of today’s Salah v peak Suarez? That’s tough.
There is one obvious difference I’m feeling though. Every time Suarez banged in a goal in the latter stages of that 2013/14 season, it felt like he was driving towards our first league title since 1990. There were some hugely important support acts but he was the main man, the one using his incredible desire to win to smash down barriers and carry us to the brink of that seemingly unattainable goal.
Because of what he’d done the previous season (30 goals), he had an aura. Suarez was the best player in the league and operating at the peak of his form.
With Salah, we’re still in the phase of being surprised by what he’s doing. With Suarez, as with Harry Kane now, his glut of goals was expected. The idea is helped, of course, by Suarez and Kane being strikers while Salah is still perceived as a wide man not supposed to deal in such ridiculous goalscoring numbers.
If there’s a tie-breaker in the today’s Salah v 2013/14’s Suarez argument, it’s perhaps this. As well as all his goals, Salah has eight assists in the top-flight so far. Impressive. But want to know how many Suarez had? The answer is 19. Those tallies of 31 goals and 19 assists are off the planet.
Right now, Salah’s goals are extremely valuable but he feels more like the key cog in a collective machine. These strikes are great for keeping us in the top four and taking us through Europe but they won’t win us a Premier League due to the excellence of Man City. It felt like Suarez’s goals would.
But even if he doesn’t score another goal from this point (he will!), Salah has been a sensation and he’s done it in his very first season. Suarez’s true brilliance took a while to reveal itself.
And, of course, if Salah bangs in the winner in the Champions League final, the argument changes again.
Here’s a another twist though and it’s one that can’t be overlooked when assessing our former No. 7.
Suarez missed the first five games of that season due to suspension. Liverpool won the first three but then drew 2-2 with Swansea and lost 1-0 at home against Southampton after a Dejan Lovren goal!
We lost the title by two points. Had Suarez been available, that loss v Southampton could easily have been turned into a win and history could have been different.
For all his brilliance, there was a costly dark side to Suarez. Salah offers only light.
Comparing eras, even if they’re relatively close in time, can have a futile element so I’ll end with this poser…..
What if the choice last summer was between getting Suarez back or signing Salah? Surely it would have been a landslide victory for the Uruguayan. He’d netted 37 for Barca in the season just gone and a startling 59 in 2015/16.
At the time of writing, Suarez has 23 for the season so what if you had to make that same decision for the remainder of this campaign, who would you pick?
I’m with Salah and I find it almost incredible to be saying that given what Suarez is still capable of.
By Dave Tindall
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