In any competitive Premier League team, you need players who have that knack of finding the net, and of finding ways to gain an advantage for their team. In Harry Kane and Mohamed Salah, Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool have two of the most clinical, and cleverest, forwards around.
The way the pair use their bodies to draw in challenges came under fire recently after both won their sides penalties respectively. Salah was condemned for making the most of a kick from West Ham’s Arthur Masuaku, while Kane was vilified for backing into Brighton’s Adam Lallana in order to win a spot-kick. Both of the incidents contributed to Liverpool and Tottenham picking up three points from tight matches, and the discussion has continued in the days since.
The most ardent critics of Kane and Salah have labelled them cheats – that the act of attracting challenges and then going down in the box is simply another form of diving. But that is an entirely over-simplistic view of the way in which Kane and Salah play. Their ability to win penalties and fouls is one of the main reason Liverpool and Spurs are in the upper reaches of the table, and frequent favourites in the Premier League odds.
The nature of football is that if strikers do not fall to the ground when fouled, there is a significantly lower chance that the team will be awarded a penalty. While it may not be the most clean-cut, morally superior way to gain an advantage in football, it is very much part of the game, and always has been. Kane and Salah simply use their attributes in a way that best benefits their team. After all, they are professionals and their main duty is ensuring their team earns as many points as possible.
In the modern game, that kind of wiliness is imperative for a striker to be successful. It does not detract from the fact that both Kane and Salah are brilliant forwards in their own right, scoring goals aplenty in a variety of different ways. Indeed, Kane is proving himself this season to be more than just an out-and-out goalscorer, having provided numerous assists this campaign so far, notably four in one game for Heung-Min Son against Southampton.
Salah meanwhile, is demonstrating his remarkable consistency for a fourth successive season. The fact that he has scored over 100 goals for Liverpool since joining the club in 2017 is testament to the Egyptian’s enduring class, and he looks in outstanding form this season, having notched seven Premier League goals already.
While they may receive flak for the way in which they use their bodies to win penalties, you can bet that their respective managers will be delighted with the way they play, and the way they bring that added threat to defenders in the box. Both José Mourinho and Jürgen Klopp are masters of winning, and that mentality clearly feeds through to their players. If Salah and Kane continue in this vein of form, then you can bet that it will be all high-fives and fist bumps from their bosses, as opposed to the jealous vitriol spewed by social media users.