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Saturday, 26 September 2020

Preview: Egypt's 'Big Five' seeking to fire on all cylinders in English Premier League

Mohamed Salah, Mahmoud Trezeguet, Ahmed Elmohamady, Mohamed Elneny and Ahmed Hegazi aim to leave their mark as the English Premier League gets underway

Ahram Online , Saturday 12 Sep 2020
Salah and Hegazi
Soccer Football - Premier League - Liverpool vs West Bromwich Albion - Anfield, Liverpool, Britain - December 13, 2017 Liverpool's Mohamed Salah in action with West Bromwich Albion’s Ahmed Hegazi (Reuters)
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An Egyptian quintet will be eager to fulfill their different targets and make a fine impression as the English Premier League gets underway on Saturday.

It's the first time five Egyptians feature in the same Premier League season, with millions of followers back home hoping they could all leave their mark. What can we expect from the five players?

Mohamed Salah (Liverpool)

Mohamed Salah


The most prominent of all, of course, is Liverpool star Mohamed Salah. Given the exploits of the past three seasons, which saw him win a host of individual honours and help Liverpool win the Champions League, the Premier League and other trophies, Salah has raised the bar so high.

He has been Liveprool's top scorer since his arrival and the fans would expect him to maintain his goal-scoring habit as the Reds target a second straight Premier League title.

For Salah, he will be eager to recapture the competition's top scorer award, which eluded him for the first time last season when he finished fifth with 19 goals, with Leicester city Jamie Vardy scooping the prize with 23 goals.

Liverpool coach Jurgen Klopp admitted that fans might take Salah's impressive goal-scoring run for granted.

"People are like this – not only us but pretty much the whole world – if things are exceptional, even we then take them for granted. That didn't happen to me, to be honest, but I get that and that's pretty special," said the German boss.

"On the other side, for him it's the same. He didn't score goals just in a normal mood, he had to bring himself in a special mood and this special mood we need.

"This aggression, this desire, all these things, that's what made him the player he is, he became in the last few years. Long may it continue."

Mahmoud Trezeguet (Aston Villa)

Mahmoud Trezeguet

Towards the end of last season, the Aston Villa man finally started to show signs that he is settling in as he played an instrumental role in keeping the club in the Premier League.

Two goals against Crystal Palace and another strike that gave Villa a 1-0 victory over Arsenal were crucial in helping Villa retain their top-flight status, with Trezeguet winning over the fans after a slow start.

The winger will now be looking to continue from where he left off last season to further cement his place, with coach Dean Smith likely to give him more playing time.

"I had to fight all through the season to have a starting role with the team. But I was sure that I would have the chance to establish myself with the team," Trezeguet said.

"When I got the chance I proved myself and I helped the team secure their place in the Premier League."

Ahmed Elmohamady (Aston Villa)

Ahmed Elmohamady

Like Trezeguet, right wing-back Ahmed Elmohamady was given a new lease of life in the latter stages of the season, playing more regularly to help Villa in their push to stay afloat.

He scored in a 1-1 draw with Newcastle in June and his inviting crosses were a great asset for Villa when it mattered most.

Although his starting spot remains far from guaranteed, Elmohamady's experience may convince Smith to make more use of it this season.

"Aston Villa is one of the greatest clubs here in England and worldwide. The fans and atmosphere in Villa Park is awesome. I am pleased to be here and I’ve spent the best times of my ten years in England with Villa," the 33-year-old said in March.

"I've been here in England for a long time and I am looking to end my career here too, to be the first Egyptian player to finish their career in England."

Mohamed Elneny (Arsenal)

Mohamed Elneny

The holding midfielder arguably faces the toughest battle among all English-based Egyptian players -- he can be offloaded before the transfer window closes on 20 October.

The 28-year-old, who joined Arsenal in January 2016, spent the last season on loan at Besiktas before returning to the Gunners in the summer.

Widespread reports suggested that he is surplus to requirements at Arsenal, but one match might have turned the tide in Elneny's favour.

Elneny produced an impressive display in Arsenal's shootout victory over Liverpool in the Community Shield, the season's curtain raiser, as his composed passes helped his side control the midfield against the league champions.

His display is likely to give manager Mikel Arteta food for thought as he ponders who to offload next month.

"He is a fantastic team player and he is a credit to your country if you are Egyptian," former Arsenal coach Arsene Wenger said recently of the man he brought to the Emirates.

"He is a fantastic boy, we love him here."

Ahmed Hegazi (West Bromwich)

Ahmed Hegazi

Hegazi has had mixed fortunes with West Bromwich last season, initially falling out of favour before being reinstated in the latter stages to help the Baggies seal promotion to the elite Premier League.

The towering, imposing central defender suffered an injury early in the season and then had a training ground argument with coach Slaven Bilic that appeared to further dent his chances of winning back his regular place.

But he came back roaring towards the end of the season, producing some solid displays at the back as West Brom won promotion to the top flight.

He has been linked with a return to his former club Ahly but given the way he finished last season, Hegazi will be tempted to feature with West Brom in another Premier League campaign.

"I played for Ahly for two years and gave my best so I am happy to be linked to the club again and for the love of the fans," Hegazi told ON Time sports channel.

"However I can't comment on anything in the time being because I still have two years in my contract with WBA."

(For more sports news and updates, follow Ahram Online Sports on Twitter at @AO_Sports and on Facebook at AhramOnlineSports.)

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