Reds start with slight edge


Fabinho is expected in the starting line-up tomorrow. — Reuters

IT IS hard not to talk about Mohamed Salah right now.

The “Egyptian King” is red hot and in a rich vein of goal-scoring form, having become the first player in Liverpool’s history to hit the back of the net in nine consecutive games.

Salah already has 12 goals to his name this season in all competitions, with seven in the Premier League and five in the UEFA Champions League.

His latest goal in the 3-2 midweek win over Atletico Madrid also saw him overtake Liverpool legend Steven Gerrard as the club’s all-time top scorer in the competition with 31.

Fans are already calling on the club’s owners Fenway Sports Group (FSG) to give Salah whatever he wants, as a contract to extend his services is still being thrashed out.

And who can blame them? Having lost Fernando Torres, Luis Suarez and Phillipe Coutinho to rival European clubs in the recent past, losing Salah would be unimaginable and the last thing fans want to see.

FSG is already walking on a tightrope over the European Super League debacle and the surprising lack of funds for summer signings.

Things may have simmered down for now, but getting Salah to sign on the dotted line would be the least they could do to appease the fans.

Failure to do so and an angry mob could fill the streets of Anfield Road to get rid of FSG, once and for all.

Even as he approaches 30, Salah still has plenty to offer and can perform at the highest level for the next three or four years.

Liverpool and fans alike will want to see him continue his good run of goal-scoring form, especially against Man United at Old Trafford tomorrow.

Images of him celebrating his 90th-minute goals against the Red Devils in May this year and January last year are still clear and vivid to most folks.

Liverpool fans will surely want lightning to strike for the third time.

If not, a repeat of his wondrous solo goals against Man City and Watford would suffice as he hunts for his third Premier League Golden Boot this season.

Salah’s strike partners Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane have also seen an uptake in form.

After his hat-trick against Watford last week, Firmino has now four league goals to his name, while the Senegal forward has chipped in five.

Trust all three to be heavily involved in getting the goals or assists.

In the middle of the park, Fabinho looks set to return to the starting line-up, having again shown his importance during the match at the Wanda Metropolitano Stadium.

The Brazilian was left on the bench in the first-half, which saw Liverpool concede two goals. His introduction in the second helped steady the ship and shut out the attacks by Atletico.

Naby Keita, despite his goal, was partly guilty during the lead-up to the two goals scored by Antoine Griezmann and could be benched.

The Guinean, who has been playing a lot for club and country, could well be rested to prevent fatigue and injuries.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, who impressed during his second-half appearance, should be given a chance to claim a spot in the starting 11.

Notwithstanding the Watford game, Liverpool’s recent defensive record is a concern, conceding three goals against Brentford and two against Manchester City and Atletico.

Virgil van Dijk, Joel Matip, Andrew Robertson and Trent Alexander-Arnold will have to play better to keep Manchester United at bay.

Any loss of concentration and mistakes could be costly when facing the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Mason Greenwood, Jadon Sancho, Bruno Fernandes and Jesse Lingard.

Marcus Rashford, who recently returned from injury and scored in the 4-2 loss against Leicester City last week and against Atalanta in the Champions League in midweek, is another dangerous opponent who could cause all sorts of problems for Liverpool’s defenders and goalkeeper.

Old Trafford is never an easy place to visit, but recent results would suggest that the Reds would be seen as favourites given their good run of results in the Premiership.

The Merseyside club cannot let up though and need to put on another five-star performance to keep the pressure on league leaders Chelsea.

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