Liverpool cruised to a 3-0 Premier League victory over Burnley before the international break, but it was not their free-flowing football that made the headlines.
Instead, most of the post-match talk centred on Sadio Mane’s furious reaction, the forward seemingly livid with team-mate Mohamed Salah after being substituted at Turf Moor.
The Senegal forward was apparently angry at Salah for taking a shot moments earlier rather than setting up his team-mate for a simple finish.
It has led to some suggesting the Egypt international is greedy, with former Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger saying: “Salah is a bit obsessed with finishing himself.”
An assessment of the Opta data suggests Salah might not be quite as selfish as Mane – and many others – think.
SALAH THE SURPRISE TEAM PLAYER?
Liverpool enjoyed a stunning 2018-19 Premier League campaign, finishing just a point behind champions Manchester City with a whopping 97 points.
Central to their success was the exhilarating front three of Salah, Mane and Roberto Firmino, who plundered 56 goals between them.
Their finishing prowess has never been in question, but how does their relationship in normal play stack up?
Firstly, and perhaps surprisingly, the trio were only responsible for assisting nine of those strikes.
While it is Salah’s generosity that has been called into question, the stats suggest the Egyptian was even more of a team player than Mane last season. The Egyptian passed to the other two forwards 48 times more than Mane (258 passes v 210 passes).
Firmino was the top assist maker of the trio, laying on five goals for the pair. All three of Salah’s assists were for Mane, while the latter was responsible for creating just one goal for his fellow forwards (to Salah).
Mane can perhaps count himself unlucky to not have had more assists to his name, given he created 20 chances for Salah.
FIRMINO STUCK IN THE MIDDLE
Klopp’s side have started this season as they finished the last, winning all four of their games – and they sit top of the Premier League table.
It was looking like a serene start until Mane’s outburst, but does he have a point?
The stats show that Salah has passed to Firmino 10 times more than Mane and has yet to create a chance for the latter. He has created three for the Brazilian.
However, it appears the Egyptian might have cause to feel equally aggrieved with Mane, given he has received just five passes from him this season – one fewer than in the opposite direction and 15 fewer than Firmino has been on the receiving end of.
When compared to Firmino’s passing stats, the pair came off unfavourably. This, however, can be explained by the fact they play on opposite sides of the pitch, with Firmino largely tasked with feeding the potent pair.
Only Salah knows if he deliberately overlooks his team-mates in favour of scoring himself, but as long as the Reds continue to sweep aside all before them in the Premier League, Klopp is hardly likely to care.
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