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Mohamed Salah just passed Kylian Mbappe and could help Liverpool regain vital attribute



Liverpool opened the scoring against Everton with a lightning-fast counter-attack

Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool have scored several goals in the last seven years. For example, it’s easy to imagine Mohamed Salah cutting in from the right and shooting across the goal.

It’s easy to imagine Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson delivering precise crosses to appreciative forwards, or Virgil van Dijk sending the ball home from perfect play. All teams have their established attacking methods and these are some that the Reds use.

Probably the most exciting are the counter-attacks, especially when they happen right after an opponent’s play. Salah scored an official Premier League goal from season contenders West Ham like this in 2021, and while perhaps not quite as spectacular, he has set the Reds on course to winning Monday’s derby in similar style.

After Cody Gakpo made it 2-0, Darwin Nunez had some shots before Salah scored Liverpool’s last four tries of the match. Two of the Egyptian’s closing quartet were marked by Opta as counter-attacks (also known as “fast counter-attacks”), as was his own goal. To qualify as such, a chance must be created after the defending [side] has rapidly converted the defense into an attack by winning the ball in their own half. When Salah and Liverpool are at their best, they excel at it. With his three tries against Everton, the 30-year-old set a small record for the season as no player registered in a single Premier League match in 2022/23 (according to WhoScored). What’s encouraging at squad level is that each of them has been made up of a different player, with Nunez, Stefan Bajcetic and Roberto Firmino assisting Salah at half-time.

each was created by a different player, with Nunez, Stefan Bajcetic and Roberto Firmino assisting Salah at half-time.

The former Roma player has also overtaken Harry Kane and Kylian Mbappé in the quartet of players at the top of the counter-attacks chart in Europe’s top five leagues this season and now leads with nine. Based on the 90 minutes played, this is now also his best league game on this front for the Reds. Number 11 has a good chance of surpassing his previous best-of-12 from last season.

The same goes for the team and the Jürgen Klopp era, although Salah is clearly the ringmaster. Liverpool have had 18 counterattacks in 2022/23, the most in the Premier League, fourth in England, France, Germany, Italy and Spain.

Keep their chances and they will finish at 32 overall, only one Premier League side have improved in the past eight seasons. Interestingly, it was Wolves in 2019/20 and the return of one of their key players, Diogo Jota, from injury was warmly welcomed at Anfield on Monday. If the Portuguese striker stays fit for the rest of the season, he should be able to help the Reds with quicker counterattacks.

If there’s one disappointing aspect to all those counter-attacks, it’s that they only resulted in three goals. Their conversion rate of 16.7% this season is below the division’s long-term average of 20.9 and well below their own 28 of the last seven seasons.

However, the trio of quick strikes showed their worth. As well as breaking the derby deadlock, Salah scored the winner against Manchester City at the break, while Firmino bagged the other of a kind to equalize in a 3-3 draw with Brighton. It’s worth noting, then, that the goals conceded were all scored at Anfield, when it was thought they’d have more chances down the road if the opposition needed to be a little more adventurous. After all, Liverpool scored like this at Old Trafford and Goodison Park last season.

The Reds’ generally poor play away from home this season has undoubtedly contributed to them having just four quick escapes when away from Anfield. With Salah and Nunez on the counterattack and the return of Firmino and Jota, hopefully Liverpool can pick up the pace in that regard. St James’ Park would be an excellent starting point.