Liverpool's Mohamed Salah explains why he loves the Premier League

David Cooper 14/05/2018
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Salah has withstood the physicality of Premier League football to shine.

If anyone doubts that Mohamed Salah‘s latest experience of Premier League football has been an instant love affair, take the word of the Liverpool star himself.

“I love it because the football is fast,” Salah said in an interview with Egyptian network ON Ent.

“The Italian league is a very good one but it relies more on tactics so the tempo of play is a bit slower.

“That’s why I prefer the Premier League as its rhythm is faster. I wanted to come from the first day I left.”

Salah’s first spell in England, with Chelsea, was a disappointing one as he rarely got playing time under then-Blues manager Jose Mourinho, and subsequently moved to Italy to revive his career.

“When I came back, it was a challenge, all of it was a challenge. When I was offered this chance, I was told to stay with Roma.

“They said you already had the chance in the Premier League before, it wasn’t as successful as Roma so stay there where the players love you and you are in harmony with the fans the club.

“But I saw something they couldn’t see. Thanks to God every one said I was right and I’m happy with it.”

The physicality of the Premier League was one reason people cited when suggesting Salah could struggle on his return to the league, but the Egyptian’s resilience has been an underrated aspect of his stunning season.

“Some players may kick you intentionally to scare you. You know when skillful footballers who make the difference are kicked once, they get worried or scared.

“I get kicked and overcame it and then just watch for the next one.”

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Liverpool star Mohamed Salah explains reasoning for his new iconic celebration

David Cooper 14/05/2018
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Mohamed Salah says his new goal celebration which has become instantly iconic – arms wide, deadpan stare – was a spur-of-the-moment reaction to his crucial goal in the first leg of Liverpool‘s Champions League quarterfinal against Manchester City.

“It happened spontaneously against Manchester City. It wasn’t prepared,” the 25-year-old said in an exclusive interview with Egyptian network ON Ent.

“Maybe the goal was very good for me, that’s why I ran to the fans and I celebrated in that way.

“Afterwards, I found it a good way and everyone liked it. I said OK, it is better than sliding on my knees.

“Everyone criticises sliding on knees anyway.”

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Jurgen Klopp shows tactical flexibility and other talking points as Liverpool seal top four spot

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Liverpool put on a show in their final league game of the season.

Needing a win to guarantee their top-four spot, Liverpool delivered in style, beating Brighton 4-0 on the final day of the season.

Mohamed Salah scored the goal he needed to break the record for most goals in a 38-game Premier League season, while Dominic Solanke, Dejan Lovren and Andrew Robertson also got onto the scoresheet to secure fourth place – and an unbeaten home league season for the Reds.

Here’s a look at the talking points from the game.

KLOPP SHOWS FLEXIBILITY WITH 4-4-2

With top-four qualification not guaranteed going into this game, Jurgen Klopp couldn’t afford to rest too many players, even with the Champions League final in mind. Yet by switching to 4-4-2 he was at least able to take one of his frontline midfielders out of the firing line.

His players adapted well – most notably Roberto Firmino, who played the support striker role with aplomb. Solanke’s performance as the lead striker was also encouraging. He linked up well with the rest of Liverpool’s attack, especially with Salah, with both assisting each other for a goal.

It gives Liverpool a new combination to throw at Real Madrid in the final. If they’re chasing a goal, Klopp can sacrifice one of his midfielders and know that his players will still be playing to a set plan.

The switch also debunked the myth that Klopp doesn’t have a Plan B. He may not be able to set up a side for a 0-0 draw, but his tactical flexibility is underrated – not too dissimilar to Zinedine Zidane.

Klopp showcased his tactical flexibility.

Jurgen Klopp showcased his tactical flexibility.

FIRMINO SHINES IN NEW ROLE

Salah has taken the headlines but Roberto Firmino has often been cited as the player who makes Klopp’s system work, with the way he leads the Liverpool press. But he’s still underrated – for example, he’s not a lock to make Brazil’s World Cup squad, and even if he does he almost certainly won’t start.

And those who cite the numbers – 26 goals and 14 assists in 51 appearances for Liverpool across all competitions this season – see a player who’s good but not quite great. He doesn’t normally show up in a list of the top strikers in the world.

But he should. On Sunday, he showed that it’s not just harassing defenders and scoring no-look goals that he’s good at – Firmino played the role of support striker to perfection. He came deep to get possession, found the rest of his attacking teammates in dangerous positions, and essentially played as a bona fide No 10 and thrived in the role.

He won’t have to do it often, but Firmino showed there’s a lot more to his game.

His role was new but Firmino was still the player who made Liverpool tick.

His role was new but Roberto Firmino was still the player who made Liverpool tick.

SOLANKE GRABS HIS CHANCE

It took 26 appearances, but Solanke finally broke his Liverpool duck. The signing of the Chelsea academy product last summer was not one that sent pulses racing, but Klopp had always looked at the 20-year-old as a player to develop – and with an attacking trio that was thriving, he got to ease the Englishman into the first team.

Still, 25 appearances without a goal is never good for a striker’s confidence, no matter how many enthusiastic pep talks he gets from his manager. Yet the way he took his goal showed no lack of self-belief – it was a smashing finish in just about the only place he could have put the ball.

The goal was the icing on the cake in an excellent display from Solanke. His partnership with Salah was impressive, especially considering the two haven’t had too much game-time together before Sunday. And he was a thorn in the side of the Brighton defence throughout. This was a performance that should serve the youngster in good stead going into next season.

Solanke finally broke his Liverpool duck.

Dominic Solanke finally broke his Liverpool duck.

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