Mohamed Salah was always going to find Saturday’s derby between Manchester United and Liverpool tough, playing away from home against a Jose Mourinho team set up to stop him and his high-flying attacking colleagues.
So it proved as the winger had minimal impact as Liverpool crashed to a 2-1 defeat that saw the Reds’ hopes for finishing second in the Premier League fade, as they’re now five points behind their bitter rivals.
Here’s a look at how Liverpool’s talisman fared.
Goals – 0
Assists – 0
Shots – 1
Shots on target – 0
Pass Accuracy – 75%
Key Passes – 1
Dribbles – 0
Touches – 42
Salah won’t have games this quiet too often – indeed, the 0-0 draw against United earlier this season is the only one that rivals this for lack of impact. Ashley Young kept the Liverpool attacker under check, and Salah was unable to shake off the United left-back’s attentions at any point during the game.
The telling stat was that he was dispossessed eight times – more than anyone else on the pitch. It was excellent defending from Young and United, but equally, it was a strangely unimaginative and muted performance from Salah.
50th min, PENALTY APPEAL: Was this a penalty? Credit to Salah for not going down, although he might not have gotten the call anyway. Young had his arm around Salah and on the Egyptian’s back as Salah tried to get on the end of a chip from Roberto Firmino.
96th min, SHOT: This was Salah’s moment. Liverpool piled on the pressure in search of an equaliser and in their last move, the ball came to the one man they wanted it to. But it was a difficult volley at an awkward height for their No11, and he blazed over from ten yards out.
It is slightly harsh to criticise Salah for not having an impact on this game, when United were set up to ensure he wouldn’t have a sniff, and carried out their plan to perfection. Still, the best players find a way, and the dynamic winger would’ve backed himself to do something of note.
The fact that it took 95 minutes for that to happen is credit to United’s defending, and Young in particular, but also points to Salah’s inability to adapt his game. He could have tried switching flanks or taking up more central starting positions, anything to drag the United defence out of shape and get on the ball more. Instead, he was completely ineffective.