EPL

Salah's 'on fire' but is Solskjaer terrified? Man Utd boss backs Ronaldo above Liverpool star

By Sports Desk October 22, 2021

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has commanded Manchester United to douse the blazing brilliance of Liverpool's "on-fire" forward Mohamed Salah.

The United manager knows Salah is capable of turning up at Old Trafford on Sunday and making a game-winning contribution, after scoring 12 goals in 11 games this season.

Six of those goals have come in Salah's last four games, including Champions League doubles against Porto and Atletico Madrid, and the Egypt international has only failed to net in one game this term: the 2-0 win over Burnley in August.

Although Solskjaer said he would side with Cristiano Ronaldo in any debate about who is the best player in the world, his admiration for Salah shone through.

"I'll always back Cristiano in any competition. He's unique and his goalscoring record has been fantastic and he keeps on scoring," Solskjaer said.

"But that being said, Salah at the moment is on fire. You've seen some of the goals he's scored lately. We know we need to be at our best to defend against him.

"Players like this don't come around very often and we've got to enjoy them when we watch them – from afar, not on Sunday, that's too close for me."

Wonder strikes against Manchester City and Watford in Liverpool's last two Premier League games have illustrated how well Salah is performing, and he sits alongside Jamie Vardy on seven goals at the top of the Premier League scoring chart.

Along with those goals in Europe, that lift him into double figures, Salah has found a consistency this season that makes him Liverpool's number one threat.

"So we've got to do a good job, but not just against him," Solskjaer said. "I'm a big admirer of the frontline they've had for many, many years now, with [Sadio] Mane and [Roberto] Firmino. Maybe [Diogo] Jota will play, who knows?

"They're players you have to focus on and you've got to be nailed on for 95 minutes to keep a clean sheet.

"When you play against a team at the level of Liverpool at the moment, they're on a great run of form, with some individuals' skills that you cannot almost defend against. But as a team we need to be compact, we need to be aggressive, we need to go out there and give every drop of nous and knowledge, strong mindset and physical energy.

"It's going to take everything to get results against the best teams in Europe and the world, and Liverpool are one of them at the moment."

Salah scored three goals in his two away games against United last season, netting twice in a 3-2 FA Cup defeat before hitting the fourth as Liverpool won 4-2 in the Premier League.

No Liverpool player has ever scored in three consecutive away games against United, while the Merseyside giants have not earned consecutive league wins at Old Trafford since January 2002.

Should Jurgen Klopp's men follow up last season's Premier League success at United with another victory, they would hold a seven-point cushion over their great rivals.

United have a disappointing recent record in league games against Liverpool, winning just one of their previous 10 encounters. This game has often failed to live up to expectations in recent seasons, with six of the last 10 ending in draws, and Liverpool coming out on top in the other three.

Solskjaer said he hoped the 3-2 win over Atalanta on Wednesday signalled "the end of a bad period for us" and that it might be "the start of something big". That is bold talk, given United have lost three of their last four domestic games, including a 4-2 setback at Leicester City last Saturday.

Liverpool are unbeaten in 18 in the Premier League, with the turmoil that plagued them at the start of the year banished and replaced by an optimism they can challenge for a second title in three years.

United are without a clean sheet in any of their last nine home league matches, their longest such run since a run of 10 between September 1970 and February 1971.

Although United finished ahead of Liverpool last season, Solskjaer was realistic enough to recognise it was injury chaos in the Anfield ranks that blunted the 2020-21 challenge from Klopp's men, with the likes of Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez sitting out most of the season.

"They're one of the teams we're trying to chase. What they've done in the last four years is something we're striving towards and [trying] to go past them," Solskjaer said.

"We ended above them last season, they had a very bad spell of injuries, so now they're back to their best."

Related items

  • Melbourne City 1-0 Perth Glory: Late Atkinson header wins it for champions Melbourne City 1-0 Perth Glory: Late Atkinson header wins it for champions

    Nathaniel Atkinson's late strike gave Melbourne City a 1-0 victory over Perth Glory at AAMI Park on Wednesday.

    Defending champions City, smarting from a first defeat of the A-League season at the hands of Western United, dominated the game but Glory goalkeeper Cameron Cook denied them time and again.

    Atkinson finally broke the deadlock in the 88th minute, nodding home from close range after Connor Metcalfe timed his run to perfection and headed into the substitute's path.

    Melbourne had 23 attempts and thought they had opened the scoring in the first half, but Andrew Nabbout's deflected strike was ruled out for offside.

    While Melbourne will point to their domination of the game, Atkinson's winner was a cruel blow for Cook, who made six saves.

    Victory for Patrick Kisnorbo's side moved them up to second place, with Perth sitting into sixth spot after four matches.

  • 'He's just been in attack mode' – Davis lauds in-form Lakers star Westbrook 'He's just been in attack mode' – Davis lauds in-form Lakers star Westbrook

    Anthony Davis says Russell Westbrook's aggression has been key to his return to form for the Los Angeles Lakers.

    Westbrook, a Los Angeles native, signed for his hometown team ahead of the 2021-22 season, having spent last campaign with the Washington Wizards.

    The nine-time All-Star struggled at the start of his Lakers career, but is averaging 23.5 points, 8.9 assists and 6.9 rebounds across the past eight games.

    He turned in a star performance on Tuesday as the Lakers claimed a convincing 117-102 victory over rivals the Boston Celtics.

    Westbrook accumulated 24 points and provided 11 assists, and only Davis (24.1) and LeBron James (25.9) are averaging more points per game this season for the Lakers than the 33-year-old (20.4).

    "I think at the beginning of the year, Russ was a little bit passive," Davis said, as reported by ESPN.

    "He was trying to get guys involved, pass the ball. We told him, 'The more you're aggressive, the more it will open up for everyone else.'

    "The last seven to 10 games, he's been very, very aggressive, and when he does that, it opens up the floor for everyone else as far as shooting.

    "He's just been in attack mode. That's why we brought him here, to be Russell Westbrook and not anybody else but that."

    Westbrook is well aware of the storied rivalry with the Celtics, given his Los Angeles upbringing.

    "As a player like myself, you want to make sure you approach all games the same while also understanding the significance of this particular game," Westbrook said.

    "That makes it a good win for us."

    The Lakers are sixth in the Western Conference with a 13-12 record, while the Celtics (also 13-12) sit 10th in the East.

    "We're disappointed as far as we were outhustled, out-toughed a little bit," Boston coach Ime Udoka said.

    "It hasn't happened in a long time. They would put their head down, get to the basket and get whatever they wanted. We're better than that defensively, but a lack of effort and a lack of toughness showed tonight."

  • Ashes 2021-22: 'It's all gone to plan so far' – Australia captain Cummins reflects on 'pretty crazy' opening day Ashes 2021-22: 'It's all gone to plan so far' – Australia captain Cummins reflects on 'pretty crazy' opening day

    Pat Cummins reflected on a "pretty crazy" first day as Australia's Test captain after his side dismantled England at the Gabba to start the Ashes in style.

    Mitchell Starc bowled Rory Burns with the very first ball in Brisbane on Wednesday and the hosts went on to skittle England out for just 147 before rain and bad light stopped play.

    Cummins, who replaced Tim Paine as captain following the wicketkeeper's resignation last month in the wake of a lewd texting scandal, led the way for Australia, taking 5-38.

    The 28-year-old became the second pace bowler to take five wickets in a men's Test innings as captain of Australia, after George Giffen (three occasions in December 1894, February 1895 and January 1895), and has taken 133 wickets in the longest format since the start of 2018, more than any other player.

    England skipper Joe Root won the toss and chose to bat on a green pitch in Queensland, and though Cummins acknowledged he would likely have made the same decision, he had no regrets over losing the coin flip as he looked back on a wonderful day for Australia.

    "Pretty crazy... it's all gone to plan so far," Cummins told BT Sport.

    "Really proud of all the guys. I was probably going to have a bat. I genuinely wasn't upset and we made the most of it.

    "[The pitch] is a little bit soft. You're always in the game on the morning of day one. It got a little bit quicker after lunch but the ball got a little bit softer. It's a pretty standard Gabba wicket."

    Asked to comment on his five-for, Cummins added: "The body felt decent. I've bowled better before and haven't got as many rewards. I kept it tight and got the ball up there."

    Starc's 2-35 and Josh Hazlewood's 2-42 were added to by a first Test wicket for Cameron Green (1-6) as England were cast aside with ease - only four of the tourists' side making it into double figures.

    The selection of opening bowler Starc had come under some scrutiny, but he responded in perfect fashion when his first delivery crashed into Burns' leg stump.

    It is only the second time in Ashes history that a batsman has been dismissed with the first ball of the first Test.

    "Really happy for him, he really held the attack together," Cummins said of Starc.

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.