February 29, 2024

Indeed, the Egyptian tucked away from the spot to help Liverpool gain a 2-2 draw at Brighton in their last game before the international break.

It was the Reds’ third penalty in the Premier League this season, and it was only one less than they had received in the entire previous campaign.

Mohamed Salah is Liverpool’s leading penalty taker, but Jurgen Klopp has plenty of options from the spot. When referee Anthony Taylor pointed to the spot after Dominik Szoboszlai was hauled to the ground, there was no doubt to whom the responsibility would be passed. Darwin Nunez may have scored a penalty a few weeks ago against LASK, but his presence inside the box with the ball was only to guarantee that the stage was properly set for Mohamed Salah to step up from 12 yards.

Salah’s remarkable conversion rate from the spot improved to 82.35% after scoring 28 of his 34 penalties. Only 11 Liverpool players had a better ratio, with only two – Jan Molby and Steven Gerrard – taking more penalty kicks than Salah. Phil Neal, the Reds’ primary penalty taker in the late 1970s and early 1980s, converted 38 of 51 penalties.

Despite missing three of his previous five penalties before scoring against West Ham United last month, including failures in consecutive Premier League games against Bournemouth and Arsenal towards the close of last season, Salah has retained both his own and Klopp’s trust.

“We had a discussion, and during that conversation, Mo expressed his desire to remain the designated penalty-taker,” Klopp explained at that time. “It was a normal exchange, and I gave my approval, saying, ‘Alright, you’re the one.’ The pressure during penalty situations can be quite intense, and Mo acknowledged that.”

Salah has been the primary penalty-taker for Liverpool ever since Roberto Firmino had the opportunity to complete a hat-trick against Arsenal in December 2018. During this period, Salah played a significant role in Liverpool’s success, as the team converted 23 consecutive penalties from October 2018 to September 2021, establishing a club record.

However, with Firmino’s departure, as well as James Milner, who had an impressive record of converting 19 out of 21 spot kicks, and Fabinho, who scored three times from penalties in the latter part of the 2021/22 season, the landscape has changed. Presently, Nunez is the sole current Liverpool player, apart from Salah, who has taken a penalty during regular game time for the Reds.

The competition for the role of taking penalties at Liverpool, following Salah, appears to be wide open. Recent events have demonstrated several potential candidates for this position. Nunez, for instance, successfully converted a penalty in Uruguay’s historic victory over Brazil. Virgil van Dijk also showed composure by securing a late win for the Netherlands against Greece with a penalty kick. Dominik Szoboszlai made an impact by scoring a penalty to help Hungary secure a draw against Lithuania. On the other hand, Luis Diaz was unable to convert a late penalty in Colombia’s goalless draw with Ecuador.

 

Mohamed Salah of Liverpool celebrates with team-mates after scoring from a penalty during the Premier League match at Brighton & Hove Albion on October 8 2023

 

Trent Alexander-Arnold, previously mentioned by Klopp as an option, has a good record in penalty shoot-outs for Liverpool, but he hasn’t been given the opportunity to take one in regular match situations.

If Liverpool is awarded a penalty in their upcoming match against Everton, it’s clear that Salah will be the designated taker. However, if Salah is unavailable, recent performances indicate that Klopp has several capable candidates to choose from.

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