Monday, April 22, 2019

Salah played his best football during goal drought – Henderson

SoccerNews in English Premier League 9 Apr 2019

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Mohamed Salah’s importance to Liverpool is about far more than goals, according to captain Jordan Henderson.

Salah and Henderson both scored late on to seal a 3-1 win over Southampton on Friday – a result that sent Jurgen Klopp’s team back to the top of the Premier League.

The Egypt forward ended a run of eight games without a finding the net in all competitions when he put his team 2-1 ahead, but Henderson believes he has proved his worth to the Reds in numerous other ways.

“During the period he hasn’t been scoring Mo has played some of his best football for Liverpool in my opinion and his contribution has been even bigger than last season,” the England midfielder said in his matchday programme notes for Tuesday’s Champions League quarter-final first leg against Porto at Anfield.

“He’s evolved so much since he arrived here and brings so much to our play. He’s bagged 21 goals this season, which by the way is absolutely massive coming on the back of what he achieved last season.

“That’s 65 goals for us overall in almost two seasons – a genuinely staggering figure. Throw in the number of assists too and it tells you everything about what he brings to this team.

“If you ask all the other lads they’ll tell you the same thing: what Mo gives us can’t just be measured in the goals he scores himself. It’s the same for the entire front three actually – neither Sadio [Mane] nor Bobby [Firmino] bagged against Southampton but both were absolutely outstanding from start to finish and made a massive difference.

“The three are the epitome of team players – they work, they graft, they give everything to help the team win. And they’re all, obviously, world-class forwards.

“I’ve no idea how many Mo will end up with when the season finishes, except to say I’m pretty confident it’ll be more than he has now – but, to be honest, it doesn’t matter.

“The number that matters to all of us is our position in the Premier League when 38 games are done and the end outcome in the Champions League.

“And for Mo, his aim is to get us as close to achieving our aims as possible, in any way he can.”

Mane picked up some of the slack during Salah’s drought and faces opponents against whom he scored a hat-trick last season, when a 5-0 away win for Liverpool in the Champions League last-16 at Porto effectively ended the tie after the first leg.

“I think that this season they [Porto] are a bit stronger in terms of their squad and quality. We know that we will have to work hard to qualify,” Mane told UEFA.

“We have good memories of beating them by a large margin [but] that was last year. They will try to be more motivated. 

“I think that would be one of the greatest mistakes we could make, to rely on what happened last year. Last year is in the past, so we will try to forget that and to focus on this season.”

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