Liverpool v Manchester City: Time for Salah to inspire Reds' title statement after slow start
Mohamed Salah has endured a somewhat underwhelming start to the 2018-19 season, but he will have no better opportunity to silence his doubters than against Premier League champions Manchester City on Sunday.
The expectations of Salah were always going to be sky high after scoring 44 times in all competitions last season, but regardless of his start to the campaign, a repeat of his exploits was unlikely.
Records tumbled for Salah in his first year at Liverpool, as his 32-goal haul set a new benchmark for a single 38-game Premier League season and saw him become the first African to reach 30 in the English top flight.
But it was not just goals which showed his productivity – Salah laid on 10 assists domestically, showing he could both score and tee up team-mates, making him the full package from an attacking perspective.
He continues to be a creative influence this season, with his average of 2.2 chances created per match actually a slight increase on the 2.1 record he posted in all competitions in 2017-18.
Yet, there can be no denying his effectiveness in the final third has taken a hit in 2018-19, particularly in front of goal.
By this point in 2017-18, Salah already had six goals – double his current figure – and 19 shots on target, with a conversion rate of 16.2 per cent.
Ahead of facing City, Salah has had just 12 accurate shots and converted 9.1 per cent.
And with respect to goals, the Egyptian is averaging one every 254 minutes at the moment, as opposed to 131.5 minutes last year.
Nevertheless, Salah proved himself to be a player who rises to the big occasion last season.
Just a quick glance at his record shows he scored in both Champions League quarter-final meetings with City, before netting a brace against former club Roma in the following round.
Salah also found the net against the rest of the Premier League's top six – except Manchester United – and bitter rivals Everton, a stunning goal which clinched him the FIFA Puskas Award.
Liverpool fancy themselves as City's biggest challengers to the Premier League title this season, and Jurgen Klopp does boast a strong record against Pep Guardiola.
Sunday's clash is the perfect opportunity for Salah to emphatically answer his doubters and simultaneously inspire a Liverpool title statement at Anfield.