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Guess who's back? Salah ensures Liverpool crank up the pressure on Manchester City in Premier League title race

08:00 WAT 20/04/2022
Mohamed Salah Liverpool
The Reds' Egyptian King is back on his throne after a terrific performance against Man Utd at Anfield, spelling danger for Man City in the title race

The celebration was a familiar one; a smiling Mohamed Salah showing the Kop his best yoga pose.

Namaste, indeed.

Guess who's back? He would tell you he never went away in the first place, but there was no doubt that Tuesday night was authentic Salah.

Back in the goals, back enjoying himself, back tormenting Manchester United and back, for 24 hours at least, on top of the Premier League.

Not many people love United at the moment - even their own fans are struggling, judging by the way the away end emptied as Liverpool romped to victory - but Salah certainly does. If he could play them every week, then Ian Rush’s all-time Reds goalscoring record would be under serious threat.

Having scored a hat-trick in the 5-0 win at Old Trafford in October, the Egyptian followed up with two more at Anfield, as Liverpool added a 4-0 triumph that was every bit as convincing, every bit as dominant and every bit as humiliating for Ralf Rangnick and a group of players who either do not care or are not good enough, and in some cases both.

And so Salah becomes the first player in Premier League history to score five times against United in a single campaign. He now has 30 in all competitions this season, the third time he has reached that landmark in five seasons at Anfield, and he even found time to add an assist for Luis Diaz for good measure.

So much for a dry spell. Salah’s form has been discussed and debated in recent weeks, but nobody inside the Liverpool dressing room ever doubted him.

“A victim of his own success,” said Trent Alexander-Arnold after last Saturday’s FA Cup semi-final win over Manchester City, while Klopp insisted in his pre-match press conference on Monday that Salah’s run of one goal in 10 games was a “completely normal” spell, one the 29-year-old would snap out of before too long.

Spot on, Jurgen. Salah was certainly at it against United, needing just five minutes to put one on a plate for Diaz and then finishing off a brilliant, sweeping move himself to make it 2-0.

He rounded off the scoring five minutes from time, clipping in deftly via a nick off Aaron Wan Bissaka after Diogo Jota’s astute pass, and had his touch not deserted him in stoppage time in front of the Kop, he might have added another match ball to his collection.

That will have annoyed him, for sure, but he was grinning from ear to ear when the Sky Sports cameras caught up with him, post-match.

“I was not worried,” he insisted. “If the team was not winning I would not be happy, but when the team is winning then everything [else] is going to come.

“I scored many goals for this club, [so] it is going to keep coming.”

They certainly will if Salah gets the kind of assistance he got here. A star turn is nothing without a support cast, and Liverpool’s was immense against United.

Just as at Old Trafford in the reverse fixture, three Reds players were able to pick up both a goal and an assist. Salah set up Diaz early, Sadio Mane brilliantly set up Salah and Diaz set up Mane after half-time. Jota, the fourth forward used on the night, needed only 15 minutes to grab an assist of his own too.

United were a shambles - “a waste of space,” according to former captain Gary Neville - but some of Liverpool’s football was remarkable.

The move for their second goal featured 25 passes, with every Reds player except Virgil van Dijk involved, before Mane picked out Salah with the most sublime ball. Salah’s touch and finish, this time, were exemplary.

These are good signs, indeed, for Klopp as the season reaches this most thrilling of climaxes. Liverpool have now scored 15 times in their last five games, and in a title race that looks as if it could go right down to the wire, have a goal difference advantage of nine over Manchester City.

Nobody is out of form. Everyone is fit and everyone is firing.

Between them, Salah, Mane, Roberto Firmino, Jota and Diaz have 85 goals this season. Takumi Minamino has nine and cannot even get on the bench at the moment. Nor can Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Harvey Elliott, players who would walk into most Premier League teams.

Right now, Klopp seems to have the key to every door, the solution to every problem. He still needs a favour if they are to pip City to the Premier League title, but their thrashing of United certainly cranks up the pressure on Pep Guardiola’s men, as they prepare to take on Brighton on Wednesday night.

Klopp will not be watching that game - “Hopefully I have something to do which makes more sense,” he said in his post-match press conference - but he will certainly have more than half an eye on the result. Liverpool, like a slip fielder in cricket, are watching and waiting, ready to pounce when that outside edge comes.

It is another derby next for them, with Everton visiting Anfield on Sunday afternoon. Salah scored twice when the sides met at Goodison Park earlier in the season, and having seen him put United to the sword again, you would be brave to bet against him adding to his remarkable tally this weekend.

Yep, the Egyptian King is very much back on his throne. And that spells danger for everyone.