Son has the edge on Golden Boot rival Salah and is a huge threat to Liverpool’s title hopes


The race for the Golden Boot will heat up on Saturday when Mohamed Salah’s Liverpool take on Son Heung-min’s Tottenham in a game with huge ramifications.

Liverpool go into the game just one point behind Manchester City in the Premier League title fight, while Spurs are only two off Arsenal in their push for the top-four.

By the end of Saturday evening, either one or both of their aspirations will have taken a significant blow as the season approaches its climax.

Son Heung-min has been edging up on Salah in the Golden Boot race since the start of January

Golden Boot contenders Mo Salah and Son Heung-min will go head to head on Saturday with huge stakes for both Liverpool and Tottenham going into their clash at Anfield

Son has already put a dent in Liverpool's title hopes this season with an equaliser during the reverse at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium following a mistake by goalkeeper Alisson

Son has already put a dent in Liverpool’s title hopes this season with an equaliser during the reverse at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium following a mistake by goalkeeper Alisson

Although Salah's goal contribution rate has slowed since the African Cup of Nations, he has been a man for the big occasion for Jurgen Klopp's side throughout the 2021-22 season

Although Salah’s goal contribution rate has slowed since the African Cup of Nations, he has been a man for the big occasion for Jurgen Klopp’s side throughout the 2021-22 season

Both teams have an array of attacking talent that could land a killer blow on the other but much of the attention will be focused on the battle between Salah and Son.

Season of two halves 

Goal contributions before Jan 1

Salah: 15 goals and 9 assists

Son: 8 goals and 2 assists

Goal contributions since Jan 1

Salah: 7 goals (3 pens) and 4 assists

Son:  11 goals 5 assists

The two are engaged in a battle for this year’s Golden Boot with Salah topping the charts on 22, with Son just three behind on 19, while Manchester United star Cristiano Ronaldo is still in the race on 18.

Momentum is on the South Korean’s side with eight goals in his last six league appearances.

The Tottenham star has already dealt a hefty blow to Liverpool’s title aspirations, during the reverse 2-2 draw earlier in the season.

When Alisson rushed off his line to intercept a pass from Ben Davies towards Son, the Brazilian goalkeeper missed his clearance and presented the 29-year-old an empty net.

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It was two dropped points for the Reds, one of a number of games that Klopp will look back at with regret that they threw away a lead, should Pep Guardiola’s side lift the Premier League trophy in the upcoming weeks.

The fixture at the Tottenham Hotspurs Stadium was also before the signing of Dejan Kulusevski on loan from Juventus – a moment that transformed their attacking line and has been the main catalyst behind their renewed push towards Champions League qualification.

On paper, this weekend’s game at Anfield resembles the toughest league game that the Reds have yet to play, with the front-three of Son, Kane and Kulusevski enough to cause any team problems – just ask Manchester City.

The prospect of Kane dropping in deep and threading one of his picture-perfect passes behind the high-line of Liverpool to Son, is surely a prospect that Klopp will have to prepare his side for.

While Son resembles arguably Tottenham’s biggest threat this weekend, based on recent form, Salah has not been the same threat he was before the African Cup of Nations.

Salah started the campaign like a runaway train scoring 15 goals and providing 9 assists in the first-half of the season. At which point, his career best, as well as Premier League record of 32 goals seemed very much in reach.   

Tottenham's front three of Dejan Kulusevski, Harry Kane and Son have been electric

Tottenham’s front three of Dejan Kulusevski, Harry Kane and Son have been electric

Since New Year’s Day, his goal contribution return has slowed up somewhat with seven goals and four assists in 13 games. In front of goal he has struggled with three of his seven goals since January coming from the penalty spot. 

Son on the other hand scored eight goals and two assists in the first half of the season, while netting on 11 occasions with another five assists since the start of January.

The fact that Son is only three goals behind Salah in the race for Golden Boot is made even more impressive as he is not the club’s designated penalty taker. Without Salah’s five goals from the spot, Son would be ahead by two due to his ruthless finishing from open play. 

Salah has been accused of being 'greedy' but he leads the assist charts with 13 so far

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Salah has been accused of being ‘greedy’ but he leads the assist charts with 13 so far

Opta statistics also show that Son, although taking on fewer shots than Salah, is able to convert a higher percentage of his chances.

Son has made 73 shots across his 31 games this season, with a shot conversion rate of 26%, with a staggering expected goals figure of 12.4 which is 6.6 less than what he has actually scored.

As title-challengers Liverpool dominate more games than Spurs, Salah in comparison has had 127 shots with a conversion rate of 17.3 percent with an expected goals rate of 22.1.

For much of the first-half of the season, Salah was seen by many to be a prime Ballon d’Or contender, thanks to his excellent displays and stunning individual goals – with his finish in the 2-2 draw against Manchester City at Anfield, guaranteed to last long in the memory of Liverpool fans.

Though the goals have slightly dried up, he is still arguably the most dangerous winger in the game.

Salah v Son
Stats Salah Son 
Games played 32  31 
Minutes played  2621  2678 
Goals  22  19
Expected goals  22.1  12.4 
Mins/goal  119.1  141.0 
Total shots  127  73 
Shot conversion rate  17.3  26 
Assists  13 
Expected assists  7.3  5.3 
Chances created  60  62 
Passing accuracy  80.5  86.9 
Dribbles attempted  134  94 
Touches in opponent’s box  313  141 
 Fouls won 19  28 

He is a menace for defences with a mammoth 313 touches in the opposition’s box this season, more than double the amount of Son (141). Salah also attempts more dribbles with 134 compared to Son on 94.

The pair have created roughly the same amount of chances this year with Son on 62 and Salah with 60, though Salah (18) has eight more big chances than Son. 

The Eygptian has faced criticisms throughout his Premier League career of being ‘greedy,’ something that is not reflected by the fact he leads the assist charts for the season with 13. 

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That number will always be helped when he has players with the ability of Sadio Mane, Diogo Jota, Roberto Firmino and Luis Diaz to play alongside. He has created three assists for Mane this season, two for Jota and then one for Diaz, Firmino, Jordan Henderson, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Divock Origi, Joel Matip and Andrew Robertson.

Son meanwhile has created two assists for Kane and one for Kulusevski, Pierre-Emile Hojberg, Lucas Moura, Davinson Sanchez and Davies.  

Liverpool cannot afford to drop any more points if they are to win the Premier League title

Liverpool cannot afford to drop any more points if they are to win the Premier League title

Spurs could give Arsenal a huge advantage in the top-four race if they fail to beat Liverpool

Spurs could give Arsenal a huge advantage in the top-four race if they fail to beat Liverpool

For Jurgen Klopp’s side, they can ill afford to drop any points in their remaining games if they are to keep their unprecedented quadruple hopes alive.

Despite speculation over his future with just one further year left on his contract, Salah remains hungrier than ever for success with Liverpool and Klopp will be hopeful that Liverpool’s main attacking talent finds some of that form from the first-half of the season which made people call him the best in the world.

Should Spurs drop points meanwhile and Arsenal capitalise with a victory over Leeds, it means the Gunners could lose to their North London rivals next week and still be in the driving seat to obtain Champions League qualification.

If Son, Kane and co hand Liverpool their first league defeat at Anfield since a 1-0 loss to Fulham last March, it will give them huge confidence that they could join the Champions League finalists in the very same competition next season. 



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