Mo Salah’s month-long goal drought is one of the big talking points in the game ahead of yet another crucial game for Liverpool against Manchester United. Weariness surely must be a factor given the epic contribution he’s made for club and country over the last year.
He’s entitled to be mentally as well as physically knacked, given everything he’s been through, but where does his workload sit compared to other Premier League stars? Pretty high, it turns out.
This is a top 10 of the busiest Premier League boys this season by minutes played. Some caveats. These are totals for all competitions and include international games as well. It’s outfield players only – Edouard Mendy, Alisson, Kasper Schmeichel and Ederson have all racked up 4000+ minutes as well – and because we’ve taken all the stats from the heronerds at Transfermarkt the season’s tally includes July and thus bits and pieces of Copa America and Euros. By definition the bits of those competitions played in July were a pretty big deal, and so we’ve decided that’s fair enough and also that we can’t be bothered to do the sums ourselves to get rid of those games.
10) Bernardo Silva (Manchester City) – 3909 minutes
We are vastly annoyed that nine rather than 10 Premier League-based players have got past 4000 minutes. Especially as ninth place is almost two full matches past that mark. Maybe we could have got away with including Ederson because the last two weekends have shown a) his outfield skills and b) that other keepers don’t have them. Anyway, Bernardo Silva. Having a good season. Good for him. Like all but two members of the list, he’s got 50 matches under his belt since July.
9) Harry Kane (Tottenham) – 4153 minutes
Missed Spurs’ first league game and was a late sub in their second but has barely missed a minute since having also racked up minutes in the Carabao, Europa Conference and FA Cup while also playing lots of games and scoring approximately 843 goals for England. After a stunning run was absolutely rotten against Brighton at the weekend, raising questions about the wisdom of Antonio Conte telling him Spurs had “seven cup finals” to finish the season.
8) Sadio Mane (Liverpool) – 4257 minutes
The star of Liverpool’s win over Manchester City at the weekend on his 55th appearance of the season, although his 85 minutes against City were his only FA Cup minutes of the season apart from six against Norwich in round five. He also didn’t feature in the Carabao until the final, but can only hardly be accused of shirking. His hefty workload includes twin penalty shoot-out successes with Senegal at Egypt and Mo Salah’s expense in first AFCON and then World Cup qualification.
7) Joao Cancelo (Man City) – 4314 minutes
Yeah, it’s a lot of minutes but lazy Joao hasn’t even bothered to play 50 games yet. He’s played a mere 49, but 44 of those in City colours. He’s missed only two Premier League games this season and played 90 minutes in all but one of the other 29. He managed only 78 minutes in the 2-0 home defeat against Crystal Palace.
6) Declan Rice (West Ham) – 4407 minutes
Absolutely crucial player for club and country these days and could yet end this exhausting but hugely rewarding year with a Europa League winner’s medal and Champions League spot without having to make a £100m move to somewhere or other. Might still do that anyway, of course.
5) Luis Diaz (Porto/Liverpool) – 4454 minutes
Even Liverpool’s January signing has racked up an epic amount of minutes thanks to our cut-off including a bit of Copa America and a whacking great number of World Cup qualifiers for Colombia along with 28 games for Porto – including two against Liverpool – and 16 games in all competitions for his new club. Nobody in European football can touch his total appearances, with an absurd 59 games of football for club(s) and country since July.
4) Antonio Rudiger (Chelsea) – 4500 minutes
It’s no longer news to point it out, but it remains one of the more astonishing redemptions in modern football. Rudiger went from such a peripheral and insignificant figure at Chelsea that they were even prepared to countenance doing business with Spurs to get rid of him to becoming the all-action leader and heartbeat of their defence. Can’t imagine Chelsea without him now, which is awkward because we’re all going to have to when his contract expires at the end of the season. Real Madrid had decided against signing him, but might now reconsider after his display against them in the epic Champions League quarter-final second leg at the Bernabeu.
3) Virgil van Dijk (Liverpool) – 4530 minutes
There is a school of thought that he isn’t quite as good since his injury problems. This may well be true, which really says a lot less about the player he is now than it does about how absurdly good he was when he first rocked up at Anfield. Has played 90 minutes of all but two Premier League games this season, sitting out against Newcastle and Spurs with the ‘rona. Liverpool’s cruise to the Champions League semi-finals has meant that’s the competition where he’s been able to have a small amount of rest, sitting out the final two group games and the second leg of the quarter-final against Benfica.
2) Mohamed Salah (Liverpool) – 4575 minutes
It’s now over a month since Salah’s last goal for Liverpool, during which time he’s also suffered laser-affected World Cup qualification penalty heartbreak to pile on his AFCON penalty heartbreak. He wouldn’t be human if he isn’t a bit knackered and affected by it all, and the evidence of the slight drop in level from the absurd standard he’s set for most of the season is undeniable. The Mailbox is currently fighting over when and whether he should be dropped/rested as Liverpool continue their exhausting yet sensational pursuit of history.
1) Tomas Soucek (West Ham) – 4636 minutes
But not even Salah can compete with Soucek for workload this season. The Czech midfielder has missed just four West Ham games all season, which would be striking in a normal West Ham season and never mind one that’s included a run to the semi-finals of the Europa League. Hasn’t missed a minute of Premier League action since mid-January, and you do wonder whether that might have to change as the Hammers’ priority shifts ever more towards European glory.