All eyes will be on Newcastle to provide an upset against Manchester City after Liverpool suffered a major blow to their Premier League title hopes with a 1-1 draw at home to Tottenham yesterday.
The Reds can’t ignore, however, that there is one major elephant in the room at Anfield right now that has appeared at the worst possible time, and that’s the surprise goal drought of Mohamed Salah.
The Egypt international has had another outstanding campaign, contributing 30 goals and 15 assists in all competitions so far, but he fired a blank against Spurs yesterday, continuing an unfortunate dip in form at the most important stage of the season.
Salah is currently on a run of just three goals in his last 16 games in all competitions, while he’s failed to score in 11 of his last 12 games. It’s impossible to ignore that this uncharacteristically poor run has come just as concern over his contract has contract has intensified.
CaughtOffside understands that the stalemate between Salah and Liverpool is showing little sign of either side budging – the Merseyside giants have no intention of altering their wage structure, while the player has no intention of backing down over what he feels he deserves.
LFC may well feel that Salah’s recent dip justifies their decision not to pay over the odds for any individual, but it might also be that their stubbornness is costing them, as their star player has now lost focus and confidence when he could be delivering them the title if he was at his best.
Former Liverpool midfielder Michael Thomas hopes this is resolved soon, as there’s no doubt in his mind that the former Roma man still has huge amounts to offer the club.
“Both the club and Salah will know what they are willing to do to keep this relationship going,” Thomas tells CaughtOffside. “I do believe he wants to stay and I also believe Liverpool want to keep him. Hopefully they come to an agreement because he still has a major role to play for the club.”
There’s not too much bad feeling from Liverpool fans either, with Peter Kenny Jones of Empire of the Kop telling CaughtOffside he still feels Salah is performing well and assisting the likes of Sadio Mane and Luis Diaz, both of whom have seen up-ticks in form.
“His assists are still coming and he’s opened the door for Diaz and Mane to shine,” Jones says. “There’s still five games left this season and he’s set himself a target of scoring 10 times in those games. I don’t think Jurgen Klopp would drop him and especially not at this stage of the season.
“If he scores against Chelsea in the FA Cup Final and Real Madrid in the Champions League Final, I’m sure he won’t mind at all about this run of no goals.”
It’s certainly true that there’s still time for Salah to make his mark on this crucial stage of the season, and of course all will be forgiven with goals in the FA Cup and Champions League finals.
In terms of the title race, however, it may be that the unfortunate dithering over a new deal has already cost Liverpool the best of Salah when they needed him most.
It’s hard to criticise a club that has got so much right with it’s transfer and contract strategy in the Klopp era, but this saga is a reminder that there’s no room for complacency when the margins are so fine in this remarkably competitive title race.