Merseyside Struggles!

31st Jan 2023

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When Liverpool play Wolves away from home this weekend Mohamed Salah will be playing his 200th Premier League game for Liverpool. That's quite a milestone and in that time he has scored 125 goals, a great return. This season he has 7 goals in the league and 17 in all competitions, in short he is doing well enough at the halfway stage of the season, but this is Mo Salah. A worldwide star, a legend at Liverpool and hero to so many Egyptians, but like his side something seems off with his game. 

Time and again it is easy to criticise players and Salah has been fantastically consistent with the Reds and even finished as joint top goalscorer with 23 goals last season. But football is rarely judged on the past and it is all about the present and Salah is being upstaged by the new kid in town Erling Haaland. Haaland already has 25 goals but that bar has been set too high for 30 year old Salah. However a fall has happened and currently Salah would only rank in 10th place on the goalscorers list and is 9 goals behind Harry Kane. Kane's total seems more like the norm if we take away Haaland's stunning season so far. Demand is always going to be high when you are playing for Liverpool in the Premier League and while no one is saying it Salah is not having a good season, not by his usual standards. However it was Salah who delayed a new contract with the club demanding better terms and better money, and the Reds relented last summer giving him a 3 year extension with a weekly wage of £350,000. We have seen other players lose form once a lucrative contract has been signed most recently of note was Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang then at Arsenal. When he signed on the dotted line, an Arsenal legend was being whispered amongst the fans, a statue was probably in waiting and then his career nose dived. It seemed to be a mix between not getting along with Mikel Arteta the manager and motivation is the biggie.

Against Brighton in the FA Cup at the weekend Salah missed an open goal, although he did assist for the Reds goal. But at 1-1 and we have seen this many times the better side, the historical side find a way and inevitably the ball falls to your star striker to set you on your way. Not this time. Brighton were the ones that found the goal and knocked out Liverpool and have beaten them twice in 15 days. Jurgen Klopp recognises that Salah needs to do more and to be fair so does his team who have fallen off the radar in a huge way compared to last season, indeed one can only think of Chelsea's fall from grace in 2016 as champions from the previous season. Here Liverpool have been out of the title race since November and are 21 points behind league leaders Arsenal. Salah may well find his form again but for now this is turning out to be a very quiet season for the Egyptian.

For Liverpool's rivals Everton it has been quite a week, mostly at the circus but change has come and been needed. Frank Lampard didn't get to celebrate his one year anniversary at the club and was sacked and in has come Sean Dyche. However Dyche was not the first choice, that fell to Marcelo Bielsa. Everton had paid a first class flight to have Bielsa travel from Argentina to London for talks that lasted a few hours over a meal. Bielsa said no, slept well and left. Could this not have taken place over a video call on a computer? It was further evidence that football is played on planet Earth but exists light years away from the ordinary person or to put it another way the fans. So Dyche is the new manager of Everton and he has an uphill task to keep the club up with just 15 points won so far. The Toffee's next two games look daunting having to play Arsenal and then it's the Merseyside derby so there will be no rest up for Dyche who it should be known supported Liverpool growing up. Now the former Chesterfield legend will be taking on his biggest job to date and if his side can take points from Arsenal this coming weekend the fans will be chanting his name through the streets long into the night. 

It has been all change at Everton player wise too as Anthony Gordon has left to join Newcastle. There is a tinge of sadness attached to Gordon's loss given he was a local player and the fans had really high hopes that he would be a success at the club and his pace would be just what the team needed. However Gordon has literally sulked this season and his body language seemed to suggest that he wanted out of the club. It will be interesting to see if Gordon can reach his full potential with the Magpies.

The Premier League is back next weekend following a gap for the FA Cup. Of course this time last year the gap was a winter one for the players to have a rest, has that just been forgotten about? Make no mistake players are paid an obscene fortune but are still human and the games continue to come thick and fast and for some European football will be restarting in a couple of weeks too. One major moment during this round of the FA Cup was Manchester City beating Arsenal 1-0. However in fairness not much can be read into the game or how the title may sway from one club to the other. Not only was it a dull affair but perhaps for this season there was some relief from the Gunners, that's one less trophy and a few matches banked that they won't have to play as they put all of their eggs into trying to win their first league title in two decades.

To win the FA Cup: Manchester City 2.50, Manchester United 4.33, Tottenham 5.50, Brighton 9.00, Leeds 21.00

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