Mohamed Salah's Egypt woe could be good news for Liverpool's Premier League title hopes
The Egyptian was superb in the Community Shield and the Merseysiders will now hope he can carry his form into the new season
Mohamed Salah did not look happy as he trudged off the Wembley Stadium pitch on Sunday evening.
You would not have expected him to either. Liverpool had lost, on penalties, to Manchester City, and the Egyptian failed to score in the 1-1 draw, although he took his spot-kick in the shoot-out very well.
He had 10 efforts on goal and did not find the back of the net with any of them.
So, on paper, not much to be thrilled about. But that is not the case in reality when looking for context ahead of the new Premier League season.
Salah was terrific at Wembley, a thorn in City's side as he caused Pep Guardiola's men problems all afternoon.
A goal would have been nice, but he hit the woodwork twice and it took a stunning overhead clearance from Kyle Walker in stoppage time to deny him what would have been a winning goal.
The 26-year-old was clearly up for it, especially considering he had only started pre-season training with his teammates a week earlier, and he did not deserve to end up on the losing side on the day, but then football is not always fair.
Salah played like he had a point to prove and perhaps he has.
He has had a miserable summer since Liverpool won the Uefa Champions League on June 1 in Madrid as Egypt's attempts to win the Africa Cup of Nations on home soil went badly wrong, both on and off the pitch.
He got himself embroiled in the row over teammate Amr Warda being thrown out of the squad over allegations of sexual harassment towards two women.
His reported role in Warda's reinstatement, and social media comments on the subject that he wrote, made him the target of significant social media criticism.
Egypt were then shocked in the last 16 by South Africa and a water bottle was thrown close to Salah post-match as he left the field.
On June 1 he was on top of the world and 36 days later he was in tears – a quick reversal of fortunes.
So, the fact that Salah hit the ground running against City, even if he did not get himself on the scoresheet, should be seen as being hugely encouraging for Liverpool and their fans.
Even though he scored in their opening game of the season in both the past two seasons, Salah has not usually found his best form until later in the season.
He has scored 54 league goals for Liverpool, but only 10 of them have come before November.
It was less of an issue last season that it took him some time to find top gear, with Sadio Mane stepping up on the goal trail.
This is a similar situation to 12 months ago when Salah had also returned to Liverpool after disappointing times with Egypt.
Then it was a World Cup in Russia that ended in three defeats with the forward not fully fit after injuring his shoulder in his infamous clash with Sergio Ramos in the Champions League.
Salah was superb on Sunday and if he repeats that level of performance then Norwich City could be in for quite the tough reintroduction to Premier League football on Friday when they meet in the first game of 2019/20.
Liverpool got a club record 97 points and only missed out on the title to City by one point in the end last season.
What the rest of the league should be wondering is what can Liverpool do if they don't have to wait until winter for Salah to bring his A game?
It could be a frightening prospect for the other 19 sides in England's top flight.
Updated: August 8, 2019 08:25 AM