Mohamed Salah put down a marker in the opening game of the season by scoring a hat-trick in Liverpool’s 4-3 win over Leeds United. The Reds needed the Egyptian to operate at the peak of his powers to overcome the newly-promoted side.
He displayed composure from the spot to notch two penalties - the latter strike to secure the three points. Salah’s effort in between the two spot-kicks was a sumptuous volley that was perhaps Liverpool’s best moment of the night, drilling his effort with power past Illan Meslier in the blink of an eye. In the process of scoring his match-winning hat-trick, Salah became the second-fastest player to score 50 goals in home matches in Premier League history – reaching the feat in only 63 games.
It’s achievements of that nature and his all-round brilliance on the field that have seen Salah installed as one of the top contenders in the bookmakers’ odds for the PFA Player of the Year award on a regular basis since his breakthrough season in the top flight in the 2017/18 campaign. Kevin De Bruyne won the award last season, while Virgil van Dijk claimed the prize in the previous term.
The Belgian is considered the favourite ahead of Salah to win the title for the second time in a row, although Salah has solid odds of 5/1 among the leading bookmakers highlighted by SBO.net. There can be value to be found using sign-up offers and bonuses to utilise those odds, which could yield a healthy profit if the first game of the season is anything to go by for the Egyptian.
Salah looked tired at times towards the end of last season, especially in the final matches of the term. He has been available to Jurgen Klopp on a regular basis throughout the past four years – he has barely missed a game due to injury – highlighting his fitness and determination. Having that extra edge on the pitch will be vital for the forward. He’s at his best when he can torment the opposition with his pace and skill as well harassing defenders in possession, creating further opportunities for himself, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino.
The 28-year-old is entering the prime years of his career, and he will have been pleased to have converted all of the opportunities that came his way in the opener. If there has been a slight criticism of his play since the 2017/18 campaign – it has been a slight decline in his clinical edge in the final third. Salah’s goal production has fallen each year in the Premier League since his arrival at Anfield.
It would have been an incredible feat to match the 32 goals he scored in his debut campaign in the two years that followed. However, he then notched 22 and 19 last season, missing some decent chances that he would have buried in his first year.
It’s a harsh statement to make, but if Salah is to win the PFA Player of the Year award for a second time he has to be a cut above De Bruyne, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Harry Kane, Bruno Fernandes and Raheem Sterling. Only a special campaign of the ilk of his debut season with Liverpool will cut the mustard, and his perfect start will certainly aid his campaign to be the top man in the Premier League again.