Did Mo Salah really start last season slowly before hitting form? We look at the stats

Mo Salah hasn’t started this season particularly well. He has scored three goals and has made one assist in eight Premier League games. He played two Champions League games and came on as a substitute in the Carabao Cup against Chelsea, but didn’t manage to register a goal or an assist in any of these games.

There has been a lot of talk about Salah starting last season slowly too, before kicking into life a bit later and going on an amazing scoring run. The hope for Liverpool is, obviously, that he’ll do that again. But did he really start last season like this one? It’s easy to forget if he did, because it feels like he was absolutely amazing in every single game. I certainly don’t remember him being poor, but I wasn’t expecting him to score in every game at the time either. With this in mind, I thought I’d jump in and have a look at the numbers from this season and last season. I am going to be using Transfermarkt for stats. I won’t be looking at the Carabao Cup.

As soon as I look at last season’s games, I can see that it is true that he started last season slowly. By this stage, after eight Premier League and two Champions League games, he had four goals and two assists in the Premier League and one goal in the Champions League. In the Premier League, his goals came against Watford, Arsenal, Burnley and Leicester, while he also managed an assist against Watford and Arsenal. He added a Champions League goal against Sevilla.

So, while he wasn’t quite firing like he did later in the season, seven goal contributions from 10 games is hardly a bad return. Any new signing that comes in and hits the ground running like that would be seen as a positive. Those numbers seem to prove that he didn’t start quite as slowly as people may suggest. I don’t know what his performances were like in those games, but judging by goals and assists, he didn’t do too badly. He hasn’t managed to match that as of yet this season.

Salah didn’t start quite as slowly as people have been making out, but it did take him a little bit of time to really kick on and start playing like we saw him later in the season. Funnily enough, his amazing run began in Liverpool’s ninth Premier League game of the season. Maybe in Liverpool’s next game, against Huddersfield, which is also their ninth game, he’ll really get going. If he could choose a team to play that he was likely to score against and kick his season off, Huddersfield would probably be his choice.

Salah also had a good return in Liverpool’s third and fourth games in the Champions League against Maribor, who were the weakest team in the group. They have back-to-back games against Red Star Belgrade next, who are the weakest team in the group. Things may be starting to shape up nicely for the Egyptian. A couple of goals could give him a real boost, and goals are a real possibility against these opposition.

Anyway, we’ll have a look at his return from the ninth Premier League game onwards. The game was against Spurs at Wembley, where Liverpool were beaten 4-1. Salah scored his team’s only goal of the game. He then went on an amazing run, contributing to a goal in 13 of the next 14 games he played. Instead of speaking about every single game, I’m going to do a bit of a list. G is for goal and A is for assist, as you may have guessed. / will separate games.

So, including the Spurs game, his record was: G/A/GG/GG/G/GG/A/G/-/G/G/AA/GG/GA. From 14 games – beginning against Spurs on October 22 and ending against Manchester City on January 14 (stats include both games) – he had 14 goals and five assists. Those are only in the Premier League too, while he added four goals and two assists in the Champions League group stages.

His good form didn’t stop there either, but I have chosen to take a bite-sized chunk of games because I won’t have the time to go through the whole season. He basically carried that level of form on for the rest of the season, as you may have noticed. His final haul from the Premier League was 32 goals and 10 assists from 36 games. He scored 10 more in the 13 Champions League games he played, adding five assists, and he didn’t even complete every game. It was an absolutely amazing record.

After looking at the stats, we can safely say that: yes, he did begin last season slowly before really coming to life and becoming the Mo Salah we know today. He went on a run of form that has rarely been seen before. I have absolutely no idea if anybody has a run of form like that, but you would imagine the likes of Harry Kane, Sergio Aguero, Luis Suarez, Didier Drogba, Thierry Henry, Cristiano Ronaldo and Alan Shearer have done something similar. I definitely don’t have the time to go through all their records.

So, while Salah did start the season slowly, he didn’t start it quite this slowly. There are a number of reasons why he hasn’t been able to really get going. The World Cup, even though Egypt didn’t go particularly far, would have played a part. He was also rushed back to that World Cup, so that wouldn’t have helped. The shoulder injury he suffered Sergio Ramos inflicted on him in the Champions League final plays into all this too. If he didn’t get that injury, he would have been fit for the World Cup, so he wouldn’t have been rushed back and he would have likely been feeling better than he is now. But pricks will be pricks, I suppose.

If I wanted to be harsh on him, I could say there’s one more reason that he hasn’t been able to get going. That reason is one that rival fans will use to annoy Liverpool fans: he’s a one-season-wonder. But I’m not having that for a second, because it’s clear that he has the ability. He wasn’t lucky in any way last season; he was just brilliant. I don’t think he’ll have a season as good as he did last season, because that would be almost impossible, but I do think he’ll come good and get back to the Salah we know. Well, I hope we do anyway, because he’s an absolute joy to watch. Whether you love or hate Liverpool, you can’t deny that he’s amazing to watch.

Can he get back to the level he reached last season? Only time will tell. With games against Huddersfield, Red Star Belgrade and Cardiff in Liverpool’s next three, he couldn’t have picked a better run to get his season going. If he can manage to put a couple past Huddersfield, we could see his confidence grow and he could really kick on. This could be the start of something special, like we saw last season, but only time will tell.

That’s that from me for this morning. Any news that’s doing the rounds throughout the day will be up here and on Twitter, and I’ll be back tomorrow morning, as always, with more. Have a tremendous Thursday!

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