I'm OK, Jack (Vale)

This weekend saw a disappointing amount of Premier League football being played, meaning that the first week of my PL review series could be a dodgy ride. Nobody will remember anything more than Mo Salah’s exploits anyway, and rightly so. This man also features in this edition’s ‘myth of the weekend’. Other incidents of the week include lucky Charlie Adam, whose horribly timed challenge on Wayne Rooney was long forgotten by the time Salah scored his miraculous fourth against a helpless Watford.

The Premier League gameweek started as most do, with a largely irrelevant and always boring fixture. Except this time there were three. At once. Thankfully there was some snow to make things interesting, or at least disguise the poor quality football being played with a picturesque smattering of the white stuff.

Stoke’s ground saw most of the weather, and the only action of the first half was a typical Charlie Adam moment of clumsiness, resulting in a red card for the midfielder. As the snow picked up, a flurry of goals too – Cenk Tosun gave Everton a 69th-minute lead, before Choupo-Moting quickly equalised eight minutes later. The celebrations in Stoke were short-lived, as they usually are because Tosun was on hand again to secure a win for Everton just six minutes from time. Perhaps the most remarkable thing about this game, was that only one of Tosun’s goals were scored with his staggeringly large forehead.

While everyone was frolicking in the snow at Stoke, Roy Hodgson’s men downed Huddersfield 2-0 at the John Smith’s stadium. This meant that Huddersfield have not found the net with their last 39 attempts on goal. Luka Milivojevic slotted away his obligatory penalty in the 68th-minute, after Tomkins had given Palace an early lead. There really isn’t much more to say about this game – it was really just a case of a home team seriously struggling for form, and an away team who are usually equally rubbish capitalising on that. Oh, and Wilfried Zaha managed to pick up another slight injury at the end of the game.

A rather amusing affair at the Vitality Stadium saw Pardew’s West Brom take another lead over Bournemouth, only to throw it away once again. If only Jonny Evans et al. could organise the team’s defence as well as they can organise a vehicle theft in Spain, they wouldn’t be conceding late goals to the likes of Jordon Ibe. They would also be able to look forward to visiting Old Trafford again next year, and not Portman Road. Anyway, that completes a few match reviews. Now to discussing the widely considered, myth of the weekend.

This week, after his dazzling show for Liverpool against Watford on Saturday evening, the consensus appears to be that Mo Salah deserves to be mentioned in the same bracket as Lionel Messi. This isn’t even in statements like “Salah has some similarities to Messi”, this is more like “Salah is Messi’s equal”. Let’s sink our teeth into this one then…

The basis for this argument appears to be the fact that Salah now leads the race for the European Golden Shoe, with 28 goals to his name. Messi currently stands on 25 goals. If you look at things this way, then yes, Salah does deserve to be compared to Messi. But, the fact is that Messi has been posting goal tallies to compete for the Golden Shoe for a decade, or even longer. This is Salah’s first season getting anywhere close to scoring this amount of goals, and it’s going to take a few more seasons of consistent goalscoring to even start to convince me that he can be compared to the best player in the world.

Let’s stop for a second and remind ourselves of players who have scored a really impressive number of goals in previous Premier League seasons:

Dimitar Berbatov – 21 goals in 2010/11.
Michu – 18 goals in 2012/13.
Daniel Sturridge – 22 goals in 2013/14.
Charlie Austin – 18 goals in 2014/15.
Odion Ighalo – 16 goals in 2015/16.
Joshua King – 16 goals in 2016/17.

My point here is that each season, there are always outstanding performers like the ones above, who continue to play very well in other years but never match that initial volume of goals. Mo Salah, however, with 28 goals already, surpasses any of the players on this list without doubt.

This could be taken as a sign of special things to come, or likely just another example of a player who has one amazing season followed by several good ones. Or in Michu and Ighalo’s case, just no more seasons at all. For me, to reach Messi’s status, Salah is going to have to repeat his feats of this year for a good few terms to come.