Mohamed Salah has 'lost his smile' but has opportunity to rediscover goalscoring touch

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Mohamed Salah

Liverpool star Mohamed Salah gets a chance to rediscover his scoring touch when he plays for Egypt against eSwatini (formerly Swaziland) in the Africa Cup of Nations this week.

After notching 44 goals for the English Premier League club in all competitions last season, the 26-year-old has managed only three this season, and just one in eight games since August.

When Salah last played for his country, he scored twice and missed two penalties as the record seven-time African champions romped to a 6-0 win over Niger during September.

Niger are ranked 105 in the world – 31 places above eSwatini – so Egypt can realistically hope to score goals this Friday at the Al Salam Stadium in Cairo.

Salah is the pride of Egypt having won the best goal and finished third in the best player category behind Luka Modric and Cristiano Ronaldo at the recent FIFA awards.

He is also among 30 contenders for the Ballon d’Or prize bestowed annually by France Football magazine.

His recent scarcity of goals for Liverpool, and being substituted in a match at Chelsea, has drawn sympathy from Egyptian pundits.

“Salah must not look back at last season, whether it was his goal scoring or his exceptional form,” said Islam el-Shater in Al-Masry Al-Youm.

“He must do what his manager (Jurgen Klopp) asks of him so that he does not lose his starting place.”

Another columnist in that newspaper, Mohammed el-Bourmy, wrote: “Salah is being compared to Ronaldo and Messi and some possibly believed he could score 40 to 50 goals every season.

“He is not required to do that, but rather to have a good season with 20 goals to his name and enjoy himself.”

Leading football commentator Hassan el-Mistekawi noted that “the Salah smile is missing since the start of the season because of the pressure he is under to score”.

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Man City's Ederson opens up on rivalry with Liverpool star Alisson

Andy Sims 10/10/2018
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Brazil goalkeeper Ederson

Manchester City goalkeeper Ederson is determined to get the better of Liverpool counterpart Alisson on two fronts this season.

Honours are even between the duo so far following Sunday’s goalless draw at Anfield, with both sides level on 20 points at the top of the Premier League.

Alisson, who arrived at Liverpool in the summer for a record £65million, was Brazil’s first-choice goalkeeper at the World Cup.

But Ederson, a Premier League title winner last season, is set to get the chance to stake his claim in their forthcoming friendlies against Saudi Arabia and Argentina.

“I expect to represent the Brazil national team against these two teams and I am looking forward to the two matches,” said Ederson.

“I think there is a lot of similarity between the two of us. Alisson is having a very positive season start at Liverpool.

“Here he is one step ahead of me, he played in a World Cup. That’s not why I’m going to work any less.

“Brazil is well served with goalkeepers. Those who come in will do a good job. Representing Brazil comes with great expectation, being able to play is even greater.

“I had the pleasure to meet Alisson when he arrived in England, we had lunch and he is a friend of mine.

“He has started this season really well, he is having opportunities with Liverpool so I expect him to have a great season – and I expect a great battle for the Premier League title.”

Brazil face Saudi Arabia in Riyadh on Friday but have been enjoying a stopover at Tottenham’s training ground in Enfield, north London.

Also in the squad are Premier League stars Fabinho, Fred, Roberto Firmino, Gabriel Jesus, Richarlison and Tottenham’s own Lucas Moura.

In Brazil’s two friendlies since losing to Belgium in the quarter-finals of the World Cup they have beaten the USA 2-0 and El Salvador 5-0.

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Fabinho declares he's adapting well to English football despite lack of Liverpool games

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[Photo credit: @LFC/Twitter]

Fabinho has insisted he is adapting well to English football, despite making only three appearances for Liverpool so far.

The Brazilian midfielder, a summer signing from Monaco, has started only one game – the Carabao Cup defeat by Chelsea – and made two brief Champions League appearances, as a substitute.

Fabinho has been an unused substitute in the last four Premier League games, with Georginio Wijnaldum, Jordan Henderson, Naby Keita and James Milner sharing the three midfield spots between them.

Milner’s hamstring injury could potentially open the door for Fabinho, and he told liverpoolfc.com: “My process to adapt to English football has been very good. Since pre-season I believe I have understood the way Jurgen Klopp plays and the way the team plays.

“My relationship with my team-mates has also been very good, like Roberto Firmino, who has been helping me, and also Alisson.

“I’m playing a little bit more and that’s important to me because it’s important to adapt on the pitch by playing matches. It’s a new experience for me because Klopp has a different style of work from the way I’m used to – but this is something I will learn.

“I have learned a few things from him but it is just the start. He is a coach who demands a lot from his players, not only in matches but also on a daily basis in training.”

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