Mohamed Salah is off to a slightly slower start in the 2018/19 Premier League. The “Egyptian King” has established himself as one of the true offensive stars of arguably the best football league on the planet. Yet his biggest headline thus far on the young season came when he was given a controversial award. Salah was recognized for having the best goal of last season, while most (including some of his teammates) believed Gareth Bale ought to have earned the honor. It’s certainly an award Salah will happily add to his growing list of accomplishments, but he’d undoubtedly prefer to be back on top of the EPL scoring charts. So – can he get there?
We think yes, and there are a few reasons that support the argument.
First, it’s still very early. This goes without saying just a handful of matches into the season, but we have a tendency these days to make snap judgments about sports. Looking at the landscape right now, in late September, it’s hard to view anyone but Eden Hazard as the favorite to lead the league in scoring. He’s been on an early tear for a Chelsea club that seems to have figured out its offense once again, and he’s taking well under 90 minutes per goal so far on the year. But as convincing as Hazard has been, he’s leading the league with just five goals right now. We’ve seen but a very small sample size of a long season that will have its twists and turns.
There’s also the fact that Liverpool is going to find itself in a lot of winning situations. Following its surprising run to the Champions League final last year, Liverpool was tipped by many to compete near the top of the EPL in 2018/19. And, keeping an eye on league odds, the team is still finding itself the favorite in most every contest it plays. One thing the first several weeks of the EPL campaign has taught us is that we were right to view this club as a rising power. Liverpool may or may not win the Premier League, but it’s going to be in with a chance to win most matches, and that means by extension that Salah will have plenty of scoring opportunity.
On a more individual basis, Salah is also finding himself on target fairly frequently. Looking at scoring data for the Premier League, Salah has had 16 total shots on the season (near the top in the league, which reflects what we just said about his having opportunities to score), and he’s been on target 63 percent of the time. Only a handful of the 11 players ranked ahead of Salah in scoring at this point have been more accurate – and we’d also expect Salah’s accuracy numbers to jump up a little bit as he works into a rhythm on the season.
Perhaps most important of all, Salah is just too good not to be in the mix. This may be a simplistic statement, but at this point, he’s the best player from Africa, the best scorer in the Premier League, and a legitimate Ballon d’Or contender until we see otherwise. Mo Salah has elevated himself to a position in world football in which we should no longer wonder if he’ll contend for a scoring title. We should just wait to see when he reaches his highest level because when he does he’ll score in bunches.