01 January 2018

Visualized: Liverpool 2-1 Leicester

Previous Match Infographics: Swansea (h), Arsenal (a), Bournemouth (a), West Brom (h), Everton (h), Spartak Moscow (h), Brighton (a), Stoke (a), Chelsea (h), Sevilla (a), Southampton (h), West Ham (a), Maribor (h), Huddersfield (h), Tottenham (a), Maribor (a), United (h), Newcastle (a), Spartak Moscow (a), Leicester (a), Burnley (h), Sevilla (h), Manchester City (a), Arsenal (h), Hoffenheim (h), Crystal Palace (h), Hoffenheim (a), Watford (a)

Match data from WhoScored, except average position from the SofaScore app. 

This is admittedly a bit of a cop out, but Saturday was the Mohamed Salah Show.

Even considering it's the first time that Liverpool have done a league double over Leicester since their promotion back in 2014-15, even with Liverpool's impressive team-wide comeback, Liverpool's first win when conceding first this season; even with Emre Can's vast improvement in the second half (he's somehow always great or bad with little in-between); even with Matip and Lovren doing an excellent job keeping Vardy quiet after his early gift of a goal; even with two back-heel assists (I love back-heel assists), including one from Mané – whose creativity as well as two offside goals suggests he's getting back to form after a recent wobble – it's hard to look past what Mo Salah did.

Mo Salah won the game. Salah won the game with two goals, one a classic cut-in-from-the-right winger's goal, the other very much a striker's goal in sucking in, turning, and beating a not-that-hapless Harry Maguire.

And it's not the first time Mo Salah's won Liverpool a game this season. (Volume down or off now)

Back post runs, cutting-inside blasts, fast breaks, volleys, shots from distance, rebounds, headers, tap-ins. He's scored the goals of wingers and the goals of strikers. All season long.

23 goals before the New Year equals a Liverpool record set by Roger Hunt in 1961. Liverpool were in the 2nd Division in 1961-62.

Admittedly, this season's total is fueled by Salah's near-constant availability and more games than Liverpool have had in recent seasons because of Champions League participation, but 17 goals in the league after 20 games is Liverpool's joint-third highest since the beginning of the Premier League, behind only Suarez in 2013-14 and Fowler in 1995-96, tied with Fowler in 1994-95. Those players finished with 31, 28, and 25 league goals respectively.

There are some names on that list.

Salah's been involved in 29 of Liverpool's 77 goals so far this season – 37.7% – 23 goals and six assists. And, without looking, I'd have guessed higher. Firmino's second in goal involvement with 24 (16 goals, eight assists). Unsurprisingly, the front four are the only players to be involved in more than 10 (Coutinho 20, Mané 13).

His goals-per-90 is hovering right around the 1.0 mark. He's putting 50% of his shots on-target, and taking almost 80% of his shots from inside the box, while still averaging 2.0 key passes and 0.3 assists per 90 minutes.

Mo Salah had five clear-cut chances against Leicester, which is absolutely egregious. And he "only" scored two. Which is right in line with his conversion rate this season, with 14 of 32 clear-cut chances (43.75%) ending in goals. People aren't wrong when they suggest that a player who's already having one of Liverpool's best scoring seasons in the last 20 years could have even more.

Liverpool don't often have five clear-cut chances as a team in a single match – it's happened in nine of this season's 30 matches, which is a higher proportion than any other season I've tracked (including 2013-14) – and Liverpool are one of the best at creating clear-cut chances.

The most clear-cut chances a Liverpool player has had in a single match this season was three: Salah against Arsenal and Firmino against Swansea. I don't have the data for 2016-17, but the most any Liverpool player had in 2015-16 in a match was three as well – Firmino in the 4-1 at City. I'd suggest that five clear-cut chances for one player in a single match does not happen often.

Salah needs his teammates to create those chances. Salah needs the likes of Firmino, Coutinho, and Mané to give defenders other players that they have to focus on. This team is set up to maximize its attacking strengths, and Mo Salah's attacking strengths.

But he's taken almost full advantage so far, much to Liverpool's benefit.

Complaining about Mohamed Salah's fee as Liverpool's new record signing back in June – a record that's since been passed twice – seems a lifetime ago. Long may it continue.

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