The 2018-19 Premier League season ended with three deserving Golden Boot winners.
Liverpool’s Mo Salah and Sadio Mane (thanks to a final day brace) ended with 22 goals, a tally Arsenal’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang tied on Sunday as well.
Chelsea’s soon-to-be-departing-for-Real-Madrid (sorry, truth) Eden Hazard led all Premier League players with 31 accounted for scores (16 goals, 15 assists). Mo Salah followed him with 30 (but yeah, what an off-year he had).
Raheem Sterling, who finished second in the PFA Player of the Year voting and earned a PFA starting XI spot over Salah, was five goals and three total scores accounted for behind the Egyptian King. 🤷♀️
Final Golden Boot Tallies
Here are the top 8 goal scorers this year:
- Mohamed Salah: 22 goals, 8 assists
- Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang: 22 goals, 5 assists
- Sadio Mane: 22 goals, 1 assist
- Sergio Aguero: 21 goals, 8 assists
- Jamie Vardy: 18 goals, 4 assists
- Raheem Sterling: 17 goals, 10 assists
- Harry Kane: 17 goals, 4 assists
- Eden Hazard: 16 goals, 15 assists
Salah plays with a contagious joy on the pitch, and seems strongly grounded off of it. He’s helped propel Liverpool back to global elite status, regularly scoring Messi-like goals.
He’s adored by Liverpool fans who happily break out in their “MO SALAH!” chant whether he’s netting goals or is in poor form and needs a pick-me-up.
Salah, who hails from Egypt, is Muslim. He very openly showcases his faith on the field. Whether he’s changing antiquated opinions of the religion to the masses is still debatable–but he’s trying to and it’s not going unnoticed. Time Magazine has named him one of the 100 Most Influential People in the World.
Why Mo Salah Makes Time’s 100 Most Influential
HBO’s Last Week Tonight host John Oliver starts the Time piece by writing:
Mo Salah is a better human being than he is a football player. And he’s one of the best football players in the world.
Salah has particularly taken the lead on something he views as important within his culture: improving the treatment of women.
He tells Time in the feature: “We need to change the way we treat women in our culture.”
Surely having a 5 year-old daughter helps progress this point-of-view, as well as the general participation of girls in youth soccer.
Whether it’s his magical left foot or his willingness to speak out, Salah is definitely making an impact on and off the pitch.
The goal was Salah’s 19th of the year and pulled him even with Sergio Aguero for the Premier League lead.
On Salah and Aguero’s heels are their respective teammates Sadio Mane (18) and Raheem Sterling (17).
Raheem Sterling in particular is making a late-charge at the Golden Boot, netting a brace on Sunday after notching a hat trick last month against Watford.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Harry Kane also have 17 goals a piece.
Where Aguero, Salah, and Sterling stand out is how they’re creating opportunities other than just finding the back of the net. Aguero and Salah have both contributed 7 assists this campaign, and Sterling has 9.
Salah is also leading all Premier League players in total shots, taking 88 so far this campaign. However, Aguero is making the most of his time on the field, scoring a goal every 109 minutes played (compared to Salah’s one per 153 minutes).
Premier League Golden Boot Odds
Despite City having a game-in-hand, Aguero and Salah are the same odds at +163 to win the Golden Boot (meaning you bet $100 to win $163, go here for a refresher on how to bet soccer). Given their respective team’s title chase, expect both to play all of their remaining Premier League games.
All odds from BetStars NJ as of 04/14/19.
|Sergio Aguero +163||Mo Salah +163||Sadio Mane +500|
|Aubameyang +700||Raheem Sterling +1000||Harry Kane +2500|
Given Harry Kane’s latest injury, it’s safe to rule him out of contention now. There’s certainly some value in Sterling’s +1000. He scores in bunches and City need him in top form for their remaining five domestic games.
Salah looked very confident on Sunday though, and if he plays like that the remainder of the season, he could quickly run away with the scoring title again (some down year).
As soccer’s popularity grows and broadcast rights expand (particularly in the US), a much brighter spotlight is finally shining on the widespread racism many players repeatedly face.
The latest incident occurred this week during a Europa League match when Chelsea visited Slava Praha. The Blues when their Leg 1 game 1-0, but the main story that made the rounds after the match was a set of Chelsea fans engaging in a racist chant against Liverpool star Mohamed Salah. Chelsea visits Anfield on Sunday for a crucial Premier League match-up.
Extra demerits for being unoriginal twits.
Thanks in part to social media, racist incidents in European soccer is becoming a near weekly thing (for real). Some stars, like Manchester City’s Raheem Sterling, have opened up thoughtful dialogue and called out hypocrisies in how European media covers players, but this issue unfortunately isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.
The issues goes deeper than some bad apple drunken fans. From parks and playground to top competitions, it’s a part of the culture. It’s the singular issue that could slow European soccer’s popularity here in the US.
Liverpool, Chelsea both condemn the incident
“Chelsea FC finds all forms of discriminatory behaviour abhorrent and where there is clear evidence of Chelsea season ticket holders or members involved in such behaviour, we will take the strongest possible action against them.
“Such individuals are an embarrassment to the vast majority of Chelsea supporters who won’t tolerate them in their club.”
The clubs get it, and change can only be affected from the top down.
Mo Salah Liverpool Chant
Counter the Chelsea chant with the absolute adoration that Liverpool fans shower Salah with every game, good performance or bad.
Start contrast, and it at least provides a glimmer of hope that the situation can improve.
Nine minutes into Friday’s Southampton vs. Liverpool‘s game, after Shane Long took advantage of a defensive gaffe to put the Saint up 1-0, Liverpool’s season and title hopes were officially over [according to my YNWA text thread].
“That was the worst defending I’ve seen all year,” messaged Gluten Free Charles.
“Good. No more stress. Can stop watching games.” texted Johnny Dangerously.
“We look hungover” I replied.
This continued for 27 minutes until Naby Keita (NABY KEITA!) recorded his first
anything goal of the 2018-19 campaign, leveling the match going into half.
The intensity of the game picked up in the second half, getting particularly chippy the last 20 minutes. Still, it remained tied until the 80th, when finally:
Mohamed Salah produces a moment of magic. Finally. He’s back.
Jordan Henderson capped it six minutes later off a beauty assist from Bobby Firmino, and Liverpool ended with a resilient and convincing 3-1 victory.
The reality is, Liverpool dominated the match. Of the 11 shots on goal Southampton produced, 1 was on target. Liverpool produced 17 shots with 5 on target, and out-possessed the Saints 67-33%. They produced 74% of the quality chances.
Liverpool Officially Qualify for Champions League, Top of Table for 9 Days
With the win, Liverpool climbed back atop the Premier League table for at least 9 days. They’ll play Porto next Tuesday in the Champions League Quarterfinals, then a huge home match against Chelsea on April 14th. They’re a heavy favorite going into that match, listed at -145 to Chelsea’s +420 on FanDuel Sportsbook NJ.
FiveThirtyEight improved Liverpool’s Premier League title probabilities to 43%.
And while there was little doubt, the win officially secured Liverpool’s place in next season’s Champions League.
The soft rush of wind you felt in your hair around 1:15pm ET was the result of a collective sigh exhaled simultaneously by all Liverpool fans after the final whistle of a crushing 0-0 draw against Everton.
The third 0-0 draw in their past four matches (!) caused the Reds to fall a point behind Manchester City in the Premier League title race. That Quadruple CrownTM, with Manchester City winning four trophies this year, is looking more and more like an annoying reality.
Sloppy Play Kills Spirited Effort
Liverpool’s lack of non 0-0 results certainly isn’t due to a lack of effort. They’re not flat in any of these games. They’re just not sharp on offense.
As has been written ad nauseum, the Reds aren’t getting much goal production from their midfielders this campaign. That is making them entirely too easy to defend now. If Mo Salah, Sadio Mane, and Roberto Firmino aren’t “on,” then the whole offense is off.
Against Watford last week, this wasn’t an issue. The offense linked up creatively and generated scoring opportunities aplenty, securing a 5-0 win.
Against Everton, they were sloppy. The passing wasn’t crisp. The midfielders and wing-backs couldn’t locate forwards in the right spots. And most critically for Liverpool’s title chances, Mo Salah couldn’t convert two golden chances. Whether it’s the pressure of the title chase, the pressure of an away Merseyside Derby, or both, this simply isn’t going to cut it in a title race with razor thin margins.
But Oh Wait, It Gets Worse!
Oddsmakers are clearly off the Liverpool bandwagon. After installing Liverpool as prohibitive title favorites after Boxing Day, Liverpool have continued to slip, now finding themselves at +210 on FanDuel NJ. They’re closer today to their preseason +400 listing than their -175 heights.
Do NOT Look at FiveThirtyEight!
Bird Box this shit right now! Do NOT look below at FiveThirtyEight‘s Premier League title odds. Don’t do it!
Why did you look?
Before a third 0-0 draw in their past four games (did we mention Liverpool haven’t scored a goal in three of their past four games of which three ended in 0-0 draws?), Liverpool still were the slightest of slight favorites according to FiveThirtyEight. Now? Oh well, whatever, nevermind.
Are There Any Silver Linings?
Yeah, the backline play and Alisson are obviously saving Liverpool’s season.They’re performing at a world-class level every game.
However, Jurgen Klopp‘s managerial decisions seem to be missing the mark of late. Whether he rips his squad in the locker room we don’t know, but his public excuse-making for their performances aren’t providing a level of accountability they perhaps need. The midfield hasn’t generated goals all season. With Klopp’s constant rotating out players after solid performances, that’s not going to change. And it’s March now. If Salah, Mane, and Firmino are going to all start clicking at once again, it’s getting a little too late for it to matter.
Sure, Liverpool are only a point behind Manchester City today. But that it’s one point that feel like one mile. This race no longer feels close. The oddsmakers and analytics agree.
It was a fun race while it lasted, but these problems aren’t fixing themselves. At least Liverpool can throw it’s record-setting riches at some offensive talent this summer, reload, and have a got at it again.
Not. So. Fast.
Since then, Manchester City started to roll again, Liverpool had two costly draws, Salah went scoreless twice, and Sergio Aguero netted two hat tricks.
Now City are ahead of Liverpool (who have a game in hand) on goal differential, and Aguero (with his Goal of the Week) has tied Salah (with his game in hand) for the Premier League Golden Boot. Both sit with 17 goals after matchday 26, two ahead of Arsenal’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
In just a few games, Salah has gone from an odds-on 10/11 favorite to 6/4, and Aguero has gone from 3/1 to just ahead of Mo at 5/4.
Who Will Win the Golden Boot?
Despite the Aguero scoring surge, Salah still has the advantage for three reasons:
- He has a game in hand
- Aguero, who when healthy is a more effective striker than Salah, has a body made of papier-mâché
- City have enough depth to give Aguero a breather or two, and Liverpool can’t afford to sit Salah
Just like the Premier League title race, the Golden Boot comes down to City and Liverpool. Who emerges atop the table might be directly tied to who produces the most goals for their club down the stretch.
On Sunday morning, Salah posted a selfie on his Instagram of his new, fresh-shaven face.
Since joining the Reds in the Summer of 2017, Salah has played in 75 Premier League games and tallied 51 goals (65 in all appearances). All of those goals have come with a beard.
Every paranoid Liverpool fan now is saying to themselves, “Did he jinx himself? Will he score less now? Or does this make him more aerodynamic? I swear if he doesn’t score against Bayern Munich he better grow that beard back stat. Wait, if he does score against Bayern he better freaking shave every day. OMG what if City beat Chelsea by 4 or 5 goals today, is it because Salah shaved his beard? Why would he do this at such a critical juncture of the campaign?”
Liverpool’s next game is against Bayern Munich on February 19th in the Champions League Round of 16.
THE SKY IS FALLING!
At least that has been the feeling among Liverpool fans all week.
Heading into today’s game at Anfield against a strong AFC Bournemouth squad, Liverpool needed a convincing victory to reestablish their place atop the Premier League table as well as build confidence heading into their Champions League Round of 16 match against Bayern Munich.
After a sloppy start, they certainly delivered, winning 3-0 in a game that could’ve easily been a five or six goal victory.
Jurgen Klopp (7) – Scroll through Liverpool’s Instagram account and you’ll notice lots of “WTF SERIOUSLY” with Klopp inserting Naby Keita into the starting XI again. Maybe he feels like building Keita’s confidence is important, or perhaps Keita looks great in training, but whatever the reason Klopp seems committed.
Liverpool needs to pour goals on in their remaining games in case the title comes down to differential, and Klopp had his strong attacking more and more as the match went on.
Liverpool’s set pieces looked a little more creative for a change.
And while it would’ve been nice to see Trent Alexander-Arnold subbed into midfield while up 3-0 to see if that could unlock more of an attack, but Klopp’s subbing was fine.
Overall, good job by Klopp though making sure Liverpool did not stumble any further.
Alisson (7) – Was challenged and came up with a critical stop early, helping steady the squad. The few opportunities he did face after that he did well to stop. Another clean sheet for the Brazilian.
James Milner (6.5) – Likely his last start at RB for the returning Trent Alexander-Arnold, he did well stifling Bournemouth on the flank while helping build-from-the-back on attack. Moved to midfield after TAA came in, was involved and active.
Virgil van Dijk (6) – A positive step in the right direction. VVD was more organized than against West Ham and more confident on ball.
Joel Matip (6) – Also much better than against West Ham, Matip got himself forward often and made some great feeds (particularly a beauty in the 33rd minute) from the back.
Andrew Robertson (9) – Solidifying his status as the best LB in the world, Robbo’s perfect dime led to the Georginio Wijnaldum goal. Among Liverpool’s starters, his technical proficiency (always a positive first touch, always brings even the most difficult balls down) is the most consistent, as well as his general effort.
Fabinho (7) – Fitting in so much better than his summer transfer partner Keita, Fabinho found the right channels to deliver perfectly weighted passes throughout the game. Solid defensively on challenges as well.
Georginio Wijnaldum (8) – Welcome back, Gini! The Dutchman was solid in his defensive CM role and scored a creative flick goal off Robertson’s inbound pass. If Liverpool are to challenge for a Champions League title again, they’ll need more of this attacking verion of Wijnaldum.
Roberto Firmino (6) – Way too sluggish in the opening 15-20 minutes, he started looking like the Bobby all Liverpool fans know and love in the second half. His pass to Salah in the 48th minute was perfect, and he got more confident and creative as the game went on.
Sadio Mane (7) – Oddly, not as all-around of a good performance as against West Ham, but his header to start scoring was as clean and strong as you’ll see. Also, nary a heavy touch all game.
Mohamed Salah (8) – As poor as he was in the first half of the first half, he was equally as impressive after that. Salah was a constant threat in the second half, playing an increasingly blazing pace as the game progressed. A confident strike for his goal, taking the lead to 3-0. Nearly missed a brace with an absolute bullet off the crossbar.
Trent Alexander-Arnold (6) – A welcome return from injury, TAA came on without skipping a beat. Nearly scored off a Firmino pass but Scott Sterling’d the goalie.
Divock Origi (N/R) – On late for Mane, tried to create an opportunity late but fell in the box.
Daniel Sturridge (N/R) – A time-wasting stoppage sub.
Check back on February 19th for Liverpool player ratings vs. Bayern Munich
Another week, another set of racial abuse allegations in European soccer.
This time it involves one of the Premier League’s biggest stars, Mohamed Salah.
Video of West Ham Fan Using Anti-Muslim Slurs Against Mohamed Salah
While taking a corner kick during Liverpool’s draw against West Ham, Mo Salah absorbed racial slurs from an unruly fan. Fortunately, somebody with a conscience was conscious enough to record it and post it on Twitter.
The below video of a West Ham fan using racial slurs against Mo Salah is alarming–warning to those who watch and might be offended:
(h/t to The Guardian for posting)
West Ham police are aware an investigating, according to ESPN FC.
To West Ham’s credit, they immediately responded with a “zero-tolerance” statement:
“At West Ham United, we have a zero tolerance policy to any form of violent or abusive behaviour. We are an inclusive football club. Regardless of age, race, religion or belief, marriage or civil partnership, pregnancy or maternity, sex, sexual orientation, gender reassignment or disability, everyone is warmly welcomed at London Stadium. Anyone identified committing an offence will have their details passed to the police and will face a lifetime ban from London Stadium. There is no place for this kind of behaviour at our stadium.”
Expect the fan to be identified and banned from West Ham games.
The Latest in a Long Line of Incidents
Unfortunately, this is a major problem for European soccer that either a) is only getting worse, b) is only coming to light thanks to social media, or c) all of the above.
An exhausting and depressing run-down of offenses is detailed by The Guardian here.
While teammates of players facing abusive have spoken out against such behavior, and clubs (like West Ham above) have acted swiftly, epitaphs and insults are still happening at an alarming clip. Unfortunately, European media may be feeding into the problem as Raheem Sterling recently pointed out.
While there have certainly been similar incidents in American sports leagues, the frequency and degree is far from European soccer. Salah is among Europe’s biggest stars. Imagine if something similar was captured from a fan yelling at, say, James Harden? The social media pitchfork mob and mass media in general would fire away in full force, and the repercussions would be harsh and swift (as like what happened with DeShaun Watson recently).
How European soccer deals with this problem–and how quickly they can keep it from happening at its current rate–will have ramifications on the popularity of leagues and teams in the US. For the sake of the game, let’s hope this type of behavior comes to end sooner than later.
With 23 games in the books this 2018-19 Premier League season, the Golden Boot award is once again Mohamed Salah‘s to lose.
Notching a brace in Saturday’s 4-3 win over Crystal Palace, Salah sits with 16 goals, two clear of Arsenal’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Tottenham’s injured Harry Kane.
Many expected Salah to take a step back this season, but this is proving to be a second-verse, same as the first campaign. At this point last year, Salah had 18 goals and 7 assists. He sits with 16 goals and 7 assists in the Premier League so far, and is just hitting his stride.
If you booked Salah at his pre-season +450 to win the Golden Boot, you’re in excellent shape. Harry Kane will be stalled out at 14 until late March. Only Aubameyang is within shouting distance of Salah with 14 goals. A full six behind Salah are a quartet including Eden Hazard (10), Callum Wilson (10), Sergio Agüero (10), and Raheem Sterling (10).
Salah leads the Premier League in goals per minute as well, finding the net once every 121 minutes only trailing fellow teammate Divock Origi who scores once every 71 minutes. Aubameyang scores one every 131 minutes. Of the viable contenders, only Agüero’s clip is close at every 136 minutes.
Given Liverpool’s reliance on Salah and their potential tight title race, along with his elite goals-per-minutes-played statistics, the Egyptian King’s reign will likely continue.
Golden Boot Leaders After Week 23
- Mohamed Salah (16 goals, 7 assists)
- Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (14 goals, 3 assists)
- Harry Kane (14 goals, 4 assists)
- Eden Hazard (10 goals, 10 assists)
- Callum Wilson (10 goals, 5 assists)
- Raheem Sterling (10 goals, 7 assists)
- Sergio Agüero (10 goals, 6 assists)
- Roberto Firmino (9 goals, 3 assists)
- Sadio Mane (9 goals, 1 assist)
- Gylfi Sigurdsson (9 goals, 3 assists)
- Richarlison (9 goals, 1 assist)