Salah and Son joint top scorers

Alaa Abdel-Ghani , Tuesday 24 May 2022

Liverpool could not win this season’s Premier League title but the crown for most goals has gone to their Egyptian ace Mohamed Salah, writes Alaa Abdel-Ghani

Salah
Salah

 

Salah and Tottenham Hotspur’s Son Heung-Min became joint winners of the Premier League’s Golden Boot award with 23 goals after both scored on Sunday, the final day of the season.

Salah began the final day against Wolverhampton Wanderers one goal clear of the South Korean at the top of the scoring charts. He played the last 30 minutes, putting Liverpool 2-1 up six minutes from time even though the Reds ultimately lost the title by just one point to Manchester City, who came from two goals down to beat Aston Villa 3-2.

Son had briefly threatened to overtake Salah when he scored a quick brace as Tottenham crushed Norwich City 5-0.

Salah also ended the campaign with 13 assists, which saw him secure the Premier League’s Playmaker award in a double for the forward. He finished one assist ahead of teammate Trent Alexander-Arnold.

Salah’s achievement of being both the top scorer and playmaker put him on an elite list of players to have clinched both awards in a single season. That club includes Didier Drogba, Thierry Henry, Harry Kane, Andy Cole, and Robin Van Persie.

As the latest addition to the assist list, Salah officially became the first Arab footballer to collect both individual trophies in a single season.

The Premier League’s Playmaker of the Season award was introduced in 2017-18; it is Salah’s first, proof to his detractors that he is not as selfish as he is sometimes made out to be.

But unlike other competitions, which use assists to decide who would finish with the crown, the Premier League’s rules state that in the event of a tie, the Golden Boot will be shared.

Salah, who joined Liverpool from AS Roma in the summer of 2017, also won the Golden Boot in 2018, when he scored 32 times for a Premier League seasonal record, and 2019 when he scored 22 times.

In the latter case, Salah was involved in a three-way tie at the top of the scoring charts alongside his Liverpool team-mate Sadio Mane and then-Arsenal forward Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

Salah has now become the fourth player in the league’s history to win the Golden Boot three times after Henry, Kane and Alan Shearer. Henry is the only man to have won the Premier League Golden Boot four times.

Salah had an electric start to this 2021-2022 campaign, scoring six goals in his first seven games. He scored in seven games in a row between August and October, capped by a stunning solo goal in a 2-2 draw with Manchester City, weaving past multiple blue shirts before a drive which flew past Ederson from the tightest of angles.

Twenty of Salah’s strikes had come by 12 March, a number made all the more remarkable given Salah usually plays from the right wing as opposed to a central striker.

But Salah suffered a sharp dip in form following a double international blow: Egypt’s loss in the final of the Africa Cup of Nations early in the year and, six weeks, later, the country’s ouster from this year’s World Cup in Qatar. Both losses were against Senegal in penalties.

His scoring form tailed off after that, with two in a 4-0 win at home to Manchester United on 19 April and one more against Wolves.

He scored just four goals in his last 18 games with critics questioning his early blizzard of goals followed by a near goal drought when he was needed more.

In contrast to Salah’s lame finish to the season, Son struck nine times in his last 10 games, including six in his final five, to shoot up the scoring charts.

Also, Son notched his goals without the help of even one penalty whereas Salah registered five.


*A version of this article appears in print in the 26 May, 2022 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly.

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