Mohamed Salah is a true Liverpool legend - only Ian Rush stands above him in terms of the great Anfield goalscorers

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Mohamed Salah Liverpool 2022-23 HIC 16:9
After becoming the Reds' leading Premier League goalscorer, the Egyptian unquestionably belongs among the club's best ever players...

So much for the power shift, then. 

Sunday had been billed as the meeting of a spent force and an emerging giant. A fading Liverpool and a rising Manchester United. A vibrant team on the up against one stuck in an irreversible decline.

The reality was rather different, with Jurgen Klopp’s side recording the biggest win in the fixture’s history. Their 7-0 victory, as one-sided as it sounds, will live long in the memory, as well as in the record books. 

“A freak result,” Klopp called it. “Unprofessional,” said a shell-shocked Erik ten Hag.

There were stars wherever you looked at Anfield, and all of them were wearing red. Whether it was Cody Gakpo or Darwin Nunez, both of whom scored twice, or the relentless Andy Robertson, Liverpool had all of the game’s standout performers.

None better than Mohamed Salah, of course.

The Egyptian loves playing against Manchester United, and he had a field day on Sunday, scoring twice, assisting twice and setting yet another personal record in the process. With 129 goals, the 30-year-old is now the Reds’ all-time leading goalscorer in the Premier League.

The man he surpassed, Robbie Fowler, posted a wonderful picture on social media on Sunday afternoon, paying tribute to his successor. #LiverpoolLegend was the hashtag Fowler chose to accompany it, and it’s hard to argue…

  1. Non-stop production
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    Non-stop production

    Six seasons into his Anfield career, Salah continues to set the most exacting of standards. In each of those campaigns, he has reached 20 goals in all competitions – he now has 22 this term – and he has reached double figures for assists in all-but-one of them as well. His output, quite frankly, is absurd.

    Against United, Salah cemented his status as the fixture's all-time leading scorer, becoming the first Reds player ever to score in five successive league games against their fierce rivals. In those five games, he has scored nine and assisted four.

    He contributed directly to four of the Reds’ seven goals on Sunday. First, he finished a mesmerising run down the right with a perfect pass for Gakpo to make it 3-0. Then, he took advantage of a kind deflection off Scott McTominay to hammer home a right-foot strike via the underside of the bar for 4-0.

    His second goal, Liverpool’s sixth, showcased his poacher’s instinct, finding himself in the right place to slot home from six-yards after Luke Shaw’s clearance struck Roberto Firmino. He then wrapped things up by setting up Firmino to make it seven in the closing stages.

    “Unbelievable!” he told Sky Sports afterwards. “I’m going home to celebrate with the family, have a chamomile tea and sleep.”

    He’d more than earned it. Some performance. Some player. 

  2. Only Rush above him?
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    Only Rush above him?

    So, where does Salah sit in terms of the Anfield greats? With 178, he is already seventh on the club’s all-time goalscoring list, and is now within five of Fowler in sixth, and within eight of Steven Gerrard in fifth.

    With a fair wind, Salah could pass both by the end of this season. Then, he’s looking at Billy Liddell (226), and Gordon Hodgson (241) as ambitious, but still realistic, targets.

    The records of Roger Hunt (285) and Ian Rush (346) will prove beyond him, surely, but Salah has unquestionably put himself in the frame when we talk about Liverpool’s greatest ever goalscorers. Realistically, only Rush, whose record will surely never be surpassed, stands above him.

    Salah’s goals-per-game record (1.63) is actually better than both Rush’s (1.91) and Hunt’s (1.73). Of players to have scored more than 50 times for Liverpool, only Hodgson, who netted 241 times in 377 games during the 1920s and 30s, and Luis Suarez have a better ratio than Salah does at present.

    Salah’s longevity already places him well ahead of Suarez, as well as the likes of Fernando Torres, John Aldridge and Michael Owen, and his trophy haul takes him above Liddell and Hunt, the stars of the 1950s and 60s sides.

    Fowler was right; he is a Liverpool Legend, and then some. And by the time he eventually leaves the club, we could be speaking about him as the greatest of all.

  3. Every type of goal

    Every type of goal

    One of the more remarkable things about Salah’s scoring feats, besides the fact that he is, unlike Rush, Hunt, Fowler or Hodgson, a wide forward rather than a classic No.9, has been the sheer variety of his goals.

    He can score with spectacular strikes – his first goal on Sunday was pretty impressive, while a long-ranger against Chelsea in 2019 sticks in the mind – or with individual brilliance, such as his back-to-back worldies against Manchester City or Watford last season.

    There are delicate touches like against Ajax and Tottenham this season, shows of poise and strength like his winner against City in October. There are tap-ins and curlers, blasts and scuffs. He scores with his right foot and his left, against the cream and against the fodder.

    He scores at home and he scores on the road. He scores early and he scores late. Forty of his goals have come in the final 15 minutes of games. His fitness and mindset truly is astounding.

    The Manchester clubs are his favoured opponents. He has 12 goals against United and 10 against City. Bournemouth, Liverpool's next opponents, are high on his list too. He has eight in seven appearances against the Cherries.

    Who'd bet against him adding to that tally this weekend?

  4. Brand new playmates

    Brand new playmates

    Against United, Salah was supported admirably by a couple of brand new playmates, as Liverpool offered a tantalising glimpse of their attacking future.

    Klopp has already built one elite forward line at Anfield, and it looks like another is emerging, with Salah, Gakpo and Darwin Nunez delivering the kind of performance which will have put defences on notice, and have Reds fans licking their lips.

    Each scored twice, each causing chaos in different ways with their skill, tenacity and finishing prowess. Crucially, each looked sure of both their own role and that of their team-mates. The understanding was there, and so was the magic.

    With Sadio Mane gone and Firmino going soon, Liverpool’s attack is evolving fast. Salah, Gakpo and Nunez, plus the fit-again Diogo Jota and the soon-to-be-back Luis Diaz, give hope that that process will not be as painful as it might once have appeared.

  5. Plenty still to play for
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    Plenty still to play for

    Ignoring the historic context of the result, Sunday’s win does plenty for Liverpool’s season. 

    For starters, it puts them in a very good position in terms of the race for the top four. They are three points behind fourth-placed Tottenham with a game in hand, and now boast a significantly better goal difference than their rivals.

    Newcastle, a point back with a game in hand of their own, remain a threat, as do Chelsea despite their recent woes. The talent available at Stamford Bridge dictates that even an eight-point gap must not be written off as insurmountable.

    Liverpool are still, for now, in this season’s Champions League – they are 5-2 down to Real Madrid heading into next week’s last-16 second leg in Spain – but their hopes of qualifying for next year’s competition have received a big boost over the past three weeks, with a run of four wins and a draw from five league matches arriving at exactly the right time.

    With Salah firing again, and with Gakpo, Nunez & Co. shining as his support cast, optimism has suddenly returned at Anfield as winter turns to spring.