In this column, we track the best Arab football talents plying their trade in the Premier League and round-up their accomplishments every week.
Liverpool star Mohamed Salah is never far from the headlines after a promising start to the season for the Reds, and he features again this week after scoring in Jurgen Klopp side’s 2-0 win over Newcastle.
Meanwhile, Leicester’s Riyad Mahrez scored in Leicester’s 1-1 draw against Bournemouth and Ahmed Hegazi shone despite West Brom losing 1-0 to Watford.
Here’s a look at how these Arab footballers fared this weekend.
MOHAMED SALAH – LIVERPOOL 2-0 NEWCASTLE
The Egyptian ace was instrumental at Anfield, setting the grass alight with his smoking footwork and tireless workrate.
The 25-year-old attacker has been a class act for Klopp’s side, weighing in with his 24th league goal of the season five minutes before the break.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain came racing through the middle, slipped the ball to Salah and the ace marksman drove the ball in off Martin Dubravka’s legs to put the Reds ahead.
Saturday’s win moves Liverpool above Manchester United into second place – at least until the Red Devils take on Crystal Palace on Monday.
Rating – 8/10
Minutes – 90
Goal – 1
Shots – 5
Shots on target – 1
Key Passes – 2
Passing Accuracy – 69.2%
Touches – 51
Passes – 26
RIYAD MAHREZ – LEICESTER 1-1 BOURNEMOUTH
It was another vintage performance from Mahrez as he earned Leicester a much deserved point against Bournemouth.
The Algerian rescued the Foxes with a goal in the last kick of the game – showing just why he is an £80 million target for Arsenal and Manchester City this summer.
Stepping up to take a free-kick just outside the box, the 26-year-old attacker curled the ball around the wall and past a stranded Asmir Begovic to spark wild celebrations for Claude Puel’s side.
The 26-year-old is starting to show signs of his class again after a failed attempt to leave the club during the January transfer window.
Rating – 8/10
Minutes – 90
Goal – 1
Shots – 4
Shots on target – 3
Key Passes – 2
Passing Accuracy – 69.8%
Touches – 74
Passes – 43
AHMED HEGAZI – WATFORD 1-0 WEST BROM
The Egyptian produced a below par performance as West Brom slumped to a fifth consecutive league defeat.
It’s a rare occurrence these days for the Baggies to produce a showing to admire, and relegation beckons now for Alan Pardew’s side with eight matches left this term.
One of the stars earlier in the season, Hegazi had defended resolutely up until Troy Deeney raced through for the winning goal with 13 minutes remaining.
Although his distribution was poor – with a 50% pass accuracy – the 26-year-old made 10 clearances, won four aerial duels and two neat tackles.
A mixed display on a day that he never quite got to grips with the elusive Deeney and Stefano Okaka.
Rating – 5.5/10
Minutes – 90
Tackles – 2
Clearances – 10
Interceptions – 1
Aerials won – 4
Passing Accuracy – 50%
Touches – 46
Passes – 30
Wenger’s explanation may not wash with many Arsenal fans, plenty of whom have long been calling for his departure.
Those shouts will intensify on the back of another damp defeat, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scoring a consolation after Lewis Dunk and Glenn Murray had put Brighton in control.
Arsenal have now lost eight of their last 13 games across all competitions since the turn of the year, with speculation about Wenger’s future now rife.
Thierry Henry refused to call on his former Gunners boss to quit, but when asked on Sky Sports whether he would want the job should it become available, the Belgium assistant manager said: “Listen, I’m a competitor, you don’t back down from a challenge.
“We are hypothetically speaking before people jump ahead of everything, (but) I have never backed down from a challenge since I was young.”
Arsenal’s record goalscorer added: “If you love a place and they ask – I repeat, they ask – for help, you are always going to say yes.”
Former Liverpool hard man Graeme Souness said Arsenal were “pretty, pretty, pretty, but not very effective” against Brighton.
For his part, Wenger says his players are suffering physically.
“We had difficulty to get going and we suffered a lot physically in the first half,” he said.
“After that, mentally as well I believe that the lack of confidence, linked with the physical aspect, made us lose some balls where they took advantage of it.
“Overall, on top of that, we made some defensive mistakes, where they took advantage of it as well. In the second half, it was all us.
“But we lacked a bit of sharpness and freshness physically, to make the difference.
“At the moment, we play too many games and are charged negatively on top of that because we lose them. So it’s difficult.”
Wenger’s side face a make-or-break Europa League round-of-16 tie against AC Milan, with the first leg at the San Siro on Thursday.
Confidence through the floor.— Rio Ferdinand (@rioferdy5) March 4, 2018
Worst arsenal TEAM I have seen in my time.
Talent alone has never been enough.
While Arsenal’s season heads towards a write-off, Brighton are unbeaten in all competitions since January 20.
The Seagulls have an FA Cup quarter-final with Manchester United on the horizon and broke their record of not beating a top-six side so far this season.
“What it feels at the moment is that this is a big win, particularly given who we were playing against,” manager Chris Hughton said of the victory which takes Brighton seven points clear of the relegation zone.
“Our form allowed that to happen. We were good first half and might have scored another. We’ve been on the edge all season.
“Every game we come into we have to play at a level to get something. We’re definitely hitting our best form at the right stage of the season. It’s now whether we can take it forward.”
Manchester United make the long trip to London on Monday evening, knowing victory over Crystal Palace will see them reclaim second place in the Premier League.
The Red Devils will be aiming to make it back to back wins following their 2-1 triumph over Chelsea last weekend. For Crystal Palace they are yet to win in their last five games and sit 18th in the league, one point from safety.
We look at the key stats ahead of the fixture at Selhurst Park
– Indeed, Manchester United are unbeaten in 19 top-flight games against Crystal Palace (W16 D3 L0), since a 0-3 loss at Selhurst Park in May 1991 courtesy of goals from Ian Wright and John Salako (2).
– Crystal Palace have only scored in four of their 17 Premier League games against Man Utd, netting just five goals in total.
– This is Crystal Palace’s first Premier League game on a Monday since beating Arsenal 3-0 in April last season – they’ve got a better win rate on this day of the week than they have any other in the Premier League (35% – won 8/23).
– However, Manchester United have the best record of all Premier League teams on Monday games, winning 42 of their 61 games (69%).
– Crystal Palace have lost all eight of their Premier League games this season that have not featured Wilfried Zaha, scoring just once and conceding 18 in these games.
– Manchester United haven’t lost three consecutive Premier League away games since January 1996, while Jose Mourinho has only lost three straight away league games once in his managerial career (August 2006 with Chelsea).
– Anthony Martial and Romelu Lukaku have combined for six Premier League goals this season (3 assists each to each other) – no Man Utd partnership has had more in a single Premier League campaign, with Martial/Rooney in 2015-16 the last duo to get this many.
– Paul Pogba has scored in both of his Premier League games against Crystal Palace – they’re currently the only team he’s scored both home and away against in the competition.
– Anthony Martial has had a hand in more goals as a substitute than any other player in the Premier League this season (6, 4 goals 2 assists).
Statistics provided by Opta