Salah has a penalty problem at Liverpool - who could replace him? (2023)

Anfield held its breath as Mohamed Salah assumed his ‘Superman’ stance at the edge of the box and took a deep breath.

Aaron Ramsdale was the only thing between him and levelling Sunday’s thrilling encounter between Arsenal and Liverpool from the penalty spot. His previous penalty, at Bournemouth a month earlier, had been fired wide of the top left corner. Liverpool lost that day, 1-0.


Jurgen Klopp couldn’t watch, turning away from the action to face the Main Stand. He did not see the Egyptian stride up to the ball, and sidefoot a shot firm and low to Ramsdale’s right.

For a split second, the Anfield crowd’s response was enough to convince Klopp that Salah had made it 2-2 — he even offered a small fist pump of celebration. Then reality bit. Those fans were groaning, not cheering: Salah had put his spot kick wide of Ramsdale’s right-hand post.

Liverpool ultimately did secure a point against Arsenal, but that has not silenced the debate over whether Salah should be kept on penalty duties — a situation Klopp admitted will now be discussed internally.

So, should Salah be allowed to keep taking them — or is it time for Klopp to look elsewhere?

What does the data say?

For much of his Liverpool career, Salah has been a guaranteed goal from the penalty spot.

His most memorable one, early in the 2018-19 Champions League final win over Tottenham Hotspur, was part of a streak of 17 consecutive successful spot kicks, after he missed his first for Liverpool against Huddersfield Town in October 2017.

In total, Salah has taken 29 penalties for the club (excluding shootouts) and scored 24 — a success rate of 83 per cent. But perhaps more significant is his recent record: of his past 11, he has only put away seven — a more troubling conversion rate of 64 per cent.

Salah has a penalty problem at Liverpool - who could replace him? (1)

Salah scored this penalty against Rangers earlier this season but his record has taken a hit (Photo: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

Has he changed his technique?

Yes… and no.

Salah’s stance and run-up remain the same. As shown against Arsenal at the weekend, Salah always adopts that Superman stance, breathing deeply to control his emotions.

Salah has a penalty problem at Liverpool - who could replace him? (2)

He then takes three or four (against Arsenal it was three) paces to his right to bend his run-up and once he gets to the edge of the 18-yard box, he takes five or six steps towards the ball.

Salah has a penalty problem at Liverpool - who could replace him? (3)

Despite his excellent record, there has been criticism surrounding Salah’s penalties.


He normally shoots powerfully but avoids risky shots far into either corner, which gives goalkeepers the opportunity to make a save. When he does deviate from more central placements, his inaccuracy can cost him.

Salah has a penalty problem at Liverpool - who could replace him? (4)

His misses against AC Milan and Leicester City last season were both saves in the middle of the goal. The latter would prove costly as Liverpool went on to lose the game 1-0 — it gave their opponents hope after a dominant opening period, which Salah failed to capitalise on from the spot.

On Salah’s two most recent penalties, he has opted for precision: against Bournemouth, he aimed for the top-left corner, with a powerful strike…

Salah has a penalty problem at Liverpool - who could replace him? (5)

…and in the Arsenal game he went for the bottom-left corner with a softer effort.

Salah has a penalty problem at Liverpool - who could replace him? (6)

The results, however, were the same.

Graham Alexander had an impeccable penalty record throughout a 20-year senior career that began in the early 1990s, missing only four of 72 penalties, excluding shootouts.

“He’s been so successful with his technique and run-up that it’s impossible to say what he should have done. His success rate shows it works,” the former Preston North End and Burnley player says of Salah. “The one on Sunday — six inches to the right, then the goalkeeper is rooted to the spot, it’s right in the corner and it’s a great penalty. They are the fine margins.

“People say professionals shouldn’t miss the target but that’s wrong because if you take the goalkeeper out of it everyone would hit the target. It’s when you try to be really precise and get it as far into the corner as you can, the room for error is a lot less.

“If you miss one, you want to be even more precise with the next one to make sure you score. That’s what it looks like Salah has done, aimed right for the corner, but he hasn’t got the accuracy.”

Was he thinking about the Bournemouth miss when stepping forward to take Sunday’s penalty? Former Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher believed so. ”I just think the fact that he missed the last one, he’s almost tried to be too precise and get it in off the post,” he said during Sky Sports’ UK broadcast of the Arsenal match.

GO DEEPERSuperman pose, power and mindfulness: Examining Salah's Liverpool penalties

Carragher’s Sky colleague Roy Keane was scathing in his assessment.


“I didn’t fancy him,” he said. “He missed a penalty a few weeks ago at Bournemouth, missed the target, and I nearly put my foot through the television watching it because he was smiling for about five minutes after he missed it. Today, I just didn’t feel it in my gut (that he would score).”

Mentality can certainly play a huge part in penalty-taking.

“Even if there are a few games in between, it is still in your mind and that’s when you try to control your emotions,” says Alexander. “He’ll want to take the next one (Liverpool are awarded) — and as soon as possible to wipe it out.

“I always felt a bit more pressure after missing because I always thought if I missed two then someone else has a rightful claim to take them off me.”

Rather than focus on the Bournemouth miss, perhaps we should look further back — to the Africa Cup of Nations in February of last year — as the source of Salah’s struggles from the spot.

His Egypt side found themselves pitched into a penalty shootout against Senegal in the final. Salah was — it is widely assumed — down to take their fifth kick, but he never got the chance: two misses by team-mates meant the shootout was lost 4-2 before Salah was even able to step forward. As the captain, he was criticised in the aftermath for not insisting on going earlier in the order.

Just over a month later Egypt were in another penalty shootout against Senegal, this time in a World Cup qualification play-off. Salah took the first penalty this time. With lasers being shone into his eyes by home fans in Senegalese capital Dakar, he used his usual technique but blazed his shot over the bar. Egypt went on to lose that shootout 3-1, so missing out on a place at Qatar 2022.

Sadio Mane scored the decisive penalty for Senegal to book their place at the World Cup at the expense of Mo Salah's Egypt 😬

— Sky Sports Premier League (@SkySportsPL) March 30, 2022

Salah would score his next five penalties for Liverpool after AFCON. Three of them were aimed to the right of the goal and they were noticeably more controlled, hit right into the corner, including his double against Leeds United last February and one in August’s Community Shield against Manchester City

… and the other two were fired down the middle. None were hit to the left.


But such moments can leave psychological scars. Missing the target twice, on consecutive penalties, is certainly concerning and begs the question of whether he should be withdrawn from his long-time role by Klopp.

Who are the other options?

Only four other Liverpool players have taken penalties for the club, outside shootouts, since Salah joined in the summer of 2017.

Before Salah arrived from Roma, James Milner was Klopp’s regular penalty taker and has still done the job on occasions since the Egyptian signed. His record is excellent, netting 19 of his 21 Liverpool spot kicks in all competitions (not including shootouts, like the rest of the numbers in this article) but at age 37 and with his contract expiring at the end of this season he has a reduced role in the squad these days, which probably rules him out.

Roberto Firmino‘s situation is similar to Milner’s as he has become a squad player. He is also leaving Anfield in the summer so giving him the job would not make sense long-term. And it would be a gamble anyway, with the Brazilian netting only two of his four penalties for the club.

Jordan Henderson has a 100 per cent record but has only taken one — in April 2015 against Arsenal, and though he scored it was far from convincing.

Fabinho arrived at Anfield five years ago with a good reputation from the spot for previous club Monaco. Despite missing his first in a pre-season friendly in 2018, in competitive games, he is three from three for Liverpool. He is still a regular starter, too, but what of the midfielder’s confidence, which may have taken a significant hit this season due to his all-round form?

Penalty records for Liverpool


Mohamed Salah



James Milner



Roberto Firmino






Jordan Henderson



*all competitions, excluding shootouts

Trent Alexander-Arnold is a dead-ball specialist and has dispatched both his penalties in trophy-winning shootouts. As a first-team regular, it may well be a role suited to him, given he strikes the ball so cleanly. Defensive colleague Virgil van Dijk‘s penalty in last season’s Carabao Cup final, outwitting Chelsea goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga with a thumping strike, could make him an option, but he did miss a penalty in last year’s World Cup for the Netherlands.


Logically, Liverpool’s other forward options should be viewed as potential replacements. Latest arrival Cody Gakpo scored two penalties for PSV Eindhoven earlier this season before his January move to Anfield. He has scored three out of four from the spot in his first-team career.

Salah has a penalty problem at Liverpool - who could replace him? (8)

Cody Gakpo could be an alternative option for Liverpool when it comes to penalties (Photo: Thor Wegner/DeFodi Images via Getty Images)

Though the return to fitness of Luis Diaz has been highly anticipated after six months out, it is not for his efficiency on penalties: one taken, one missed for previous club Porto. Diogo Jota, meanwhile, did score one for Wolverhampton Wanderers in the Championship and netted in those Carabao Cup and FA Cup final shootouts last year.

Then again, the answer may well be Darwin Nunez. Since the start of 2019-20, the Uruguayan has scored 11 penalties from 11 attempts, including one against Barcelona in the Champions League. Liverpool paid big money for the 23-year-old to become their goalscorer — how long until penalties are added to his list of responsibilities?

(Top photo: Nick Potts/PA Images via Getty Images)


Who takes Liverpool penalties? ›

While Liverpool have only received one penalty in the Premier League this season, it's a debate that must be held. Liverpool are blessed with several great strikers of the ball but only three of the current squad are top-notch penalty-takers. Those three are none other than Mohamed Salah, Fabinho, and James Milner.

Who did salah miss a penalty against? ›

Klopp couldn't bear to watch as Salah - who previously missed a penalty against Bournemouth - placed the ball down, and then smashed his effort off target. And German boss Klopp - facing the crowd in nervous anticipation - didn't appear to realise and video footage shows that he thought his team had scored.

How many Salah goals are penalties? ›

Other current Premier League stars are just outside the >90% gang for penalty success. Harry Kane has scored 30 of his 34 Premier League penalties, with a success rate of 88%, while Mohamed Salah's scored 18 of his 20 Premier League penalties (90%).

How many penalties has Mo Salah taken for Liverpool? ›

There have been 22 penalties taken by Mohamed Salah in the Premier League with Liverpool and, with today's, three missed (in 2017 against Huddersfield, in 2021 against Leicester were the other two and one more against Bournemouth a few weeks ago).

Who is the most successful penalty taker? ›

Cristiano Ronaldo

Which player has never missed a penalty? ›

Ledio Pano (50+)

Midfielder Ledio Pano is one of the only players in football history to take over 40 penalties and score every single one of them. The likes of Herea can be debated with a lack of official data, while players like Rickie Lambert and Le Tissier ended up missing towards the end of their careers.

How many big chances has salah missed? ›

Adjust Filters
6.Gabriel Jesus13
6.Kai Havertz13
6.Mohamed Salah13
9.Callum Wilson11
16 more rows

Why did Salah miss the penalty? ›

Salah opted for a softer technique on this occasion but it did not succeed as he rolled a low shot wide of Aaron Ramsdale's goal. Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp had decided, perhaps due to superstition, not to watch Salah's penalty.

Which teams has salah scored the most against? ›

Salah has now scored more goals against the Red Devils (12) than he has against any other opponent, averaging a goal every game. Manchester City is his joint-second favorite opponent (10 goals), though he's faced Pep Guardiola's side much more often (18 times).

Who missed most penalty in football history? ›

Most penalties missed in the 21st century
PlayerPenalties scoredPenalties missed
Lionel Messi10330
Cristiano Ronaldo14329
Francesco Totti7718
Zlatan Ibrahimovic8417
1 more row
Feb 16, 2022

Which player has the most goals without penalties? ›

As a result, Messi has now scored 672 goals without penalties during his professional career.

Who has saved the most penalties in the Premier League? ›

James holds the record for keeping the most clean sheets in the Premier League with 169. In his 572 appearances, the English goalkeeper conceded just 179 goals. He also holds the record for saving the highest number of penalties in the league with 13, having faced 63 penalties in total.

Who is Liverpool most prolific penalty takers? ›

Steven Gerrard

Gerrard is the player to have scored the most penalties in Liverpool's history.

Which player has the best penalty conversion rate? ›

The Southampton Legend Matt Le Tissier has to be the best ever penalty taker of all time. He had an incredible record and still remains one of the greatest penalty record in the history of football. He had a conversion rate of over 95% which was truly remarkable.

Who is England's top goal scorer without penalties? ›

Without penalties, Sir Bobby Charlton will be England's top scorer. The Manchester United legend scored 49 goals in 106 appearances for the Three Lions, with just three coming from the penalty spot.

Which player has never got a red card? ›

Gary Lineker never received a yellow or red card. It's one of those amazing statistics in football that you struggle to believe is real, but alas, the legendary England striker managed to stay out of the referee's book across a professional career spanning 1978 to 1994.

Who is the No 1 penalty player in football? ›

Cristiano Ronaldo holds the record for scoring the most penalty goals in football history. The Man United forward has found the back of the net 145 times from the spot.

Who is penalty success king in football? ›

Cristiano Ronaldo is the most successful player when it comes to scoring from the penalty spot in the 21st century. Out of the 819 goals the Al-Nassr player scored so far in his career, 146 came from penalties.

Has a player ever scored a hat trick of penalties? ›

Sophus Nielsen, the player with most goals in an Olympics single match. Goalkeeper José Luis Chilavert, scored a hat-trick of penalties in 1999.

Which player has 100 percent penalty record? ›

The accolade for the most penalties taken with a 100% success rate is held by former Manchester City midfielder and dominant powerhouse, Yaya Touré. The Ivorian star might have lost his cool about not being given a birthday cake for his 31st birthday, but he certainly held a cool temperament from the penalty spot.

Who is the free kick king of football? ›

Lionel Messi

What is Salah highest scoring season? ›

How many goals has Salah scored for Liverpool
3 more rows
Apr 1, 2023

How much potential does Salah have? ›

Mohamed Salah Rating is 89. His potential is 89 and his position is RW. He is 30 years old from Egypt and playing for Liverpool in the England Premier League (1). Mohamed Salah FIFA 23 has 4 Skill moves and 3 Weak Foot, he is Left-footed and his workrates are High/Med.

What odds was Salah to score first? ›

Mohamed Salah to score first at 4/1 could be a prove to be a wise bet.

What is the reason for penalties in football? ›

Offences for which the penalty kick is awarded

any of the following offences against an opponent, if committed in a manner considered by the referee to be careless, reckless or using excessive force: charges. jumps at. kicks or attempts to kick.

What rank is Salah in fifa 23? ›

Mohamed Salah's Rating on FIFA 23 Ultimate Team: 94 overall.

On FIFA 23 Ultimate Team, Mohamed Salah is one of the highest rated players in the game with an overall rating of 94. He has an amazing offensive output; a 93 pace, 94 dribbling, 92 shooting and 89 passing.

How many goals has Mo Salah scored against top 6? ›

Liverpool top scorers against the Big Six: Salah and Firmino prove brilliance against Arsenal
  • v Arsenal. Roberto Firmino (11)
  • v Chelsea. Sadio Mane, Mo Salah (4)
  • v Manchester City. Mo Salah (7)
  • v Manchester United. Mo Salah (10)
  • v Tottenham. Mo Salah (7)
  • Total (current players in italics) Mo Salah (36)
Apr 11, 2023

Who saved the most penalties in a row? ›

1. Samir Handanovic - 38 penalties saved.

Who saved most penalties in football? ›

Samir Handanovic

. He tops the list of the most penalty saves by goalkeepers. The Inter Milan star and captain has saved a record 38 penalties during his professional career and this is not the end.

Which player scored 3 penalties in one game? ›

The 24-year-old forward achieved the rare feat by sending goalkeeper Sage Stephens the wrong way three times in the space of 11 minutes either side of half-time.

Which 3 players have scored 100 goals without a penalty? ›

In April 2022, Cristiano Ronaldo became the most recent player to reach 100 goals. Six of the 33 players accomplished the feat without scoring a penalty – Sadio Mané, Peter Crouch, Emile Heskey, Les Ferdinand, Andy Cole, and Ryan Giggs.

Has anyone else kicked 1,000 goals? ›

Given only six players in the game's history have kicked 1000 goals in their career, former Docker, Cat and Blues defender Stephen O'Reilly holds a record related to the milestone that is unlikely to be matched.

Who was the worst penalty taker in the Premier League? ›

#1 Juan Pablo Angel (50%)

With 16 goals to his name in the 2003-04 season, he finished as the club's top goal-scorer. Angel made 175 Premier League appearances, scoring 44 goals and registering 14 assists. In the process, the Colombian forward managed to score five out of 10 penalties with a success rate of just 50%.

Which goalkeeper is best at saving penalties? ›

The top 10 goalkeepers with the most penalty saves in the world
  • Diego Alves - 26.
  • Manuel Neuer - 25. ...
  • Petr Cech - 21. ...
  • Iker Casillas - 20. ...
  • Pepe Reina - 19. ...
  • Tim Howard - 18. ...
  • Wojciech Szczesny - 17. ...
  • Gianluigi Donnarumma - 16 saves. ...
Sep 20, 2022

Who is the best penalty keeper in England? ›

Adjust Filters
1.Dean HendersonNottingham Forest
1.José SáWolverhampton Wanderers
3.Gavin BazunuSouthampton
4 more rows

Who is Liverpool free kick taker? ›

Premier League Penalty & Set Piece Takers
TeamPenaltiesDirect Free Kicks
LiverpoolSalah, FabinhoAlexander-Arnold, Salah
Manchester CityHaaland, Mahrez, De BruyneDe Bruyne, Mahrez
Manchester UnitedFernandes, Martial, RashfordFernandes, Eriksen
Newcastle UnitedWilson, IsakTrippier, Shelvey, Schär
16 more rows

What is Balotelli best penalty conversion rate? ›

At the time of writing, his 100-percent penalty-conversion rate is amongst the most talked-about runs in football. The 22-year-old has realistically played a third of his professional career and is still to miss from 12 yards. The responsibility of taking penalty kicks is an important one.

Who are the most successful penalty teams? ›

Argentina have won the most World Cup penalty shootouts, winning five of the six shootouts they've been involved with. Both Germany and Croatia hold 100% records, having won all four of their World Cup penalty shootouts.

Can a player take more than 1 penalty? ›

No player is allowed to take a second kick until all other eligible players on their team have taken a first kick, including the goalkeeper.

Has any footballer never missed a penalty? ›

Yaya Toure has taken 16 penalties in official competitive games, and has not missed a SINGLE one. Quite astonishing.

Which player never scored a goal? ›

Carlos Kaiser (footballer)
Personal information
Full nameCarlos Henrique Raposo
Date of birth2 April 1963
Place of birthRio Pardo, Brazil
Height1.84 m (6 ft 1⁄2 in)
21 more rows

Who has scored the most goals in a Premier League season with no penalties? ›

1. Andrew Cole – 1993/94 – 34 goals excluding penalties (40 games) – Top of the tree is former Newcastle striker Andrew Cole, who bagged a record 34 league goals in the '93/94 season, none of which came from the penalty spot. That year, Cole played 40 out of 42 league matches, boasting a goals-per-game record of 0.85.

Who is on pens for Liverpool? ›

Mohamed Salah

Which players can take penalties? ›

Only players who were on the pitch during the final whistle of the second half of extra time can take part in the penalty shootout. Even the goalkeeper can take penalty kicks.

Who decides which player takes penalties? ›

The referee tosses a coin to decide the goal at which the kicks are taken. The choice of goal may be changed by the referee for safety reasons or if the goal or playing surface becomes unusable. The referee tosses the coin a second time to determine which team takes the first kick.

Who takes free kicks for Liverpool? ›

Premier League Penalty & Set Piece Takers
TeamPenaltiesDirect Free Kicks
LiverpoolSalah, FabinhoAlexander-Arnold, Salah
Manchester CityHaaland, Mahrez, De BruyneDe Bruyne, Mahrez
Manchester UnitedFernandes, Martial, RashfordFernandes, Eriksen
Newcastle UnitedWilson, IsakTrippier, Shelvey, Schär
16 more rows

When was the last time Liverpool conceded a penalty at Anfield? ›

How often do Liverpool concede goals from penalties at Anfield? Not very. In fact the last time they conceded a goal from 12 yards out at Anfield was against Everton in a 2-0 home defeat in February 2021, Gylfi Sigurdsson's late spot-kick wrapping up the three points.

Who is the Greek guy on Liverpool? ›

On 11 August 2020, Tsimikas signed for Liverpool on a deal for reported fee of £11.75 million. He became just the second Greek footballer to become a Liverpool player after Sotirios Kyrgiakos who joined the club from AEK Athens in 2009.

Who is the new Liverpool player Tyler? ›

Morton made his first team debut in a pre-season friendly in July 2021 against Wacker Innsbruck, followed by his competitive debut for the Liverpool first team as a second-half substitute on 21 September 2021 in an EFL Cup match against Norwich City.

Who is penalty missed king of football? ›

In comparison to his eternal rival Leo Messi, Ronaldo has fared marginally better from the spot. AS Roma icon Francesco Totti missed 18 penalties during his career.
Most penalties missed in the 21st century.
PlayerPenalties scoredPenalties missed
Lionel Messi10330
Cristiano Ronaldo14329
Francesco Totti7718
Zlatan Ibrahimovic8417
1 more row
Feb 16, 2022

Who takes the best penalties? ›

Here are the players with most penalties in 2022 (top 5 leagues, all competition):
  • Riyad Mahrez- 7. The Manchester City winger is 10th on the list. ...
  • Sofiane Boufal- 7. ...
  • Florian Tardieu- 7. ...
  • Ivan Toney- 7. ...
  • Ben Yedder- 8. ...
  • Kylian Mbappe- 8. ...
  • Trending World Football Articles: ...
  • Vincenzo Grifo- 9.
Jan 15, 2023

Who is the coolest penalty taker in football? ›

10 Of The Best Penalty Takers Of All Time
  • Alan Shearer.
  • Frank Lampard.
  • Steven Gerrard.
  • Matthew Le Tissier.
  • Jorge Luiz Frello (Jorginho)
  • Alessandro Del Piero.
  • Marco Van Basten.
  • Michel Platini.

Who is more likely to win penalties? ›

Always the most effective penalty takers are those who feel in complete control of the ball and where it goes. The players who feel as if it is all a lottery are more likely to miss than to score. Most tellingly, however, is that they are also more likely to miss than for the keeper to save the shot.

Do coaches select penalty takers? ›

The coach usually decides who will take a penalty kick for the team before the game begins. The player chosen is often someone who has confidence, accuracy, and experience taking penalty kicks. The penalty takers are usually the strikers.

Can the substituted player can take a penalty? ›

Even if a substitution opportunity arises because of caution, disqualification or injury, the substitute may not take the penalty kick. Under the laws of the game, there are no such restrictions. (Note: some youth leagues modify rules regarding when a substitution may occur.) Any player may take the penalty kick.

Who is the best free-kick taker in Premier League? ›

Former Manchester United star David Beckham currently holds the record for scoring the most direct free kicks in Premier League history. Across an illustrious career with the Red Devils, Beckham netted 18 free kicks which helped his side to win six top-flight English titles while he was at the club.

Who is the father of free-kick in football? ›

"Say Juninho Pernambucano's name, and the first response is likely to be, "Great free kicks." He was the greatest and most versatile free-kick taker there has ever been. Through his early years at Vasco da Gama and his eight-year stint at Lyon, Juninho developed his knuckleball technique.

Who decides the free-kick taker? ›

The referee has full discretion on whether to allow a quick free kick, and all other rules on free kicks still apply. However, in taking a quick free kick the kicking team waives their entitlement to retake the kick if an opponent who was within 9.15 m (10 yards) intercepts the ball.


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