Should there even be any debate?
Not amongst Liverpool fans, who’ve known about Mo Salah’s greatness since a few weeks into his Anfield tenure.
It started in 2017 when we secured the Egyptian from AS Roma for £34m. At the time, many pundits considered this an expensive fee for a Chelsea reject without elite pedigree.
204 goals and 82 assists so far suggest it may in fact have been quite good value for money!
Against Newcastle United on New Year’s Day, Salah looked at his very, very best. In that kind of mood, there’s only a handful of players who’ve competed this century who are his equal.
Two goals, two assists. Countless big chances created. The manner in which he picked the ball up on the right touchline and immediately dribbled towards goal was scintillating. There were no cutbacks. It was direct, non-stop action. Liverpool ended up winning 4-2 which sent us three points clear at the top of the table, but the result could have been 7-0 or 8-0, easily.
The performance was the highest xG racked up by any Premier League side – EVER.
And yet much of the discussion afterwards has regarded the awarding of a penalty… Odd.
So far this season in the Premier League, Salah is easily the standout performer, aged 31.
He leads the goal-scoring charts with 14 and the assists chart with eight. He has the most shots on target. He’s created the most big chances and has the most touches in the opposition box. That’s incredible, it really is.
But the ridiculous thing is he’s been this good since his arrival. He has only missed ten Premier League games since 2017/18 and nearly all of those are due to him participating at the AFCON. His availability and ludicrous fitness plays a huge part in his greatness.
If you’re picking an all-time Premier League XI, there is no possible way someone could select anybody else on the right-wing. There’ll be some who want Cristiano Ronaldo there or maybe even David Beckham. Nonsense. Neither of them come close to what Salah has achieved in England in terms of the numbers or the performances.
Let’s take Ronaldo, for example. He played 236 PL matches, scoring 103 goals and registering 37 assists. He was jaw-droppingly brilliant. But in just 15 more games played, Salah has 50 more goals (153) and 30 more assists (67).
Salah has three Golden Boots and on track to get another this season. The only player with more is Thierry Henry, with four. Right now, he’s favourite to win another Premier League Player of the Season award – which would make it three.
Henry does get in all-time PL XI, probably on the left of the attack, with Salah on the right. Up top, it’s between Alan Shearer, who scored the most goals, but at a worse goal:minute ratio than many, or Sergio Aguero or Harry Kane.
The brilliance of Curtis Jones
If every single Liverpool player was fit and available and we had a Champions League Final tomorrow, Curtis Jones would and should start.
The Scouser has been that integral recently and we’d likely be further ahead of the top of table had he been fit the entire season.
Jones got himself into the team at the end of 2022/23 when we went on a winning run that almost saw us clinch top four, but this term an injury meant he was initially in and out of the side.
Now fully fit, he’s showing why he’s completely integral to our tactical setup. He presses manically and his dynamism off the ball simply makes us a better team. Jones sets the tone with his energy and the way he closes down space and opponents. He never turns off defensively, which is quite impressive considering in the youth sides he was often a luxury inside forward.
Against Newcastle, Jones once again shone, but he’s barely had a bad game since April, when he got himself in the team. He ticks things over, he probes spaces and he’s finding a knack of getting into the box and scoring. Last term he scored four from open play and has three already this.
He’s rightly ahead of Ryan Gravenberch in the pecking order right now. The Dutchman is clearly very talented, but he’s experiencing a dip since the early promise he showed after arriving from Bayern Munich.
You can see Jones against Newcastle, below:
Curtis Jones is playing some of his best football of late for Liverpool, one of the star players last night. I'm so happy for the young lad. I really want him to succeed at @LFC 👏👏👏👏pic.twitter.com/6BzwLoS4Af
— Jay-LFC (@JasonLFC1979) January 2, 2024
Well done Joe Gomez
Be honest – who wrote Joe Gomez off last season? Many of us did, anyway.
He had a mistake in him. He lacked confidence. You didn’t trust him in central defence. Maybe that’s because he was a fullback all along!
Brilliant at right-back when deputising for Trent Alexander-Arnold, Gomez has stepped it up again in place of natural left-backs Andy Robertson and Kostas Tsimikas – both of whom are long-term absentees.
Gomez actually drives towards the box from this position like an inside-forward. He’s so good on the ball and defensively hasn’t put a foot wrong. We’d be lost without him right now.
What a turnaround. Gareth Southgate would be mad not to pick him and Jones in his England squad.