Napoli v Liverpool. The Reds biggest test of the season so far. Jürgen Klopp’s side know that they’ll have to be on their best form in order to leave the Stadio San Paolo with even a point. Mo Salah breezes past Kalidou Koulibaly and is immediately tugged back by the intimidating Napoli centre back. There is definitely enough contact to warrant the Egyptian going down, yet he doesn’t. Liverpool’s goalscoring phenomenon stays on his feet and fails to convert the chance. The incident said one thing to me: Mo Salah needs to go down in the box more often.
This is not the first example of the forward staying on his feet when he had every right to go down. If we look back at Bournemouth last year, the Egyptian had studs raked down his achilles as he bore down on goal. The winger stayed upright and slotted past the keeper to extend Liverpool’s lead. However, throughout last season there were a number of times when Mo Salah was awarded what some rival fans called “soft pens”. They weren’t soft pens. The winger bought each and every penalty and was well within his rights to do so.
When players go down, they force the referee into a decision: was there enough contact? When players are fouled and stay on their feet, the ref has an easier job, he can choose to ignore the incident. Salah is a strong player with a low centre of gravity, as such he is difficult to throw to the ground – the Reds winger has to buy his fouls. Pundits and fans got into his head at times last year, he is far too honest. Salah needs to go down more often in the box in order to be awarded the pens he deserves.