Football Features

Who’s the Premier League’s best attacking duo right now? Liverpool v Tottenham could impact the debate

By Mohamed Moallim

Published: 13:26, 6 May 2022

Liverpool have secured a clean sweep of cup finals for the 2021/22 season but their immediate focus is on continuing to pile the pressure on Premier League leaders Manchester City, who sit one point ahead with four matches remaining.

The 19-time English champions are in scintillating form having won having picked up 40 points from the last 42 available. During this potentially championship-winning run they’ve averaged 2.4 goals per game. That doesn’t bode well for their upcoming opponents, two of whom (Aston Villa and Southampton) are in the bottom half but safe from relegation while Wolves, who occupy eighth spot, are on a three-game losing streak.

But the Reds’ biggest remaining top-flight challenge will show up to Anfield on Saturday evening.

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Despite recently blanking in back-to-back games, Tottenham will give Klopp’s defence something to ponder. Antonio Conte has switched things up and is starting to fully harness Spurs’ capable forward line, complementing Harry Kane and Son Heung-min with the addition of Dejan Kulusevski. Since the January transfer window closed, they have scored more league goals than any other team in the division (33).

Consequently, the showdown at Anfield pits the league’s two best attacks. In the red corner, Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane; in the white, Harry Kane and Son Heung-Min. The prospect of this duel begs the question: who is the league’s best attacking double-act this season? If assists shared between pairings is any measure, here are the 2021/22 Premier League season’s most productive in that respect.

Bruno Fernandes x Paul Pogba (Manchester United)

  • Total assists for each other combined: 4
  • Pogba to Fernandes: 4
  • Fernandes to Pogba: 0

Maybe everyone got a little over-excited, but remember when Paul Pogba looked destined to break a formidable record shared by Thierry Henry and Kevin De Bruyne for most assists within a single season (20)? You should, because it was less than a year ago. He is on nine assists for the current top-flight campaign but assisted five goals in his first two games, creating four in a 5-1 win over Leeds United on the opening day. Pogba’s playmaking helped Bruno Fernandes score a hat-trick that game and their total of four for the season is bettered only by four other Premier League partnerships this season.

Emmanuel Dennis x Joshua King (Watford)

  • Total assists for each other combined: 3
  • Dennis to King: 2
  • King to Dennis: 1

Emmanuel Dennis’ Premier League form deserted him at the turn of the year. He has two goals and one assist in 16 games since January 1st, compared with eight goals and five assists in 16 games during the previous phase of the season.

It could be worse, though. His formerly productive strike partner Josh King has no league goals and no assists in 2022.

Diogo Jota x Mohamed Salah

  • Total assists for each other combined: 4
  • Jota to Salah: 2
  • Salah to Jota: 2

Diogo Jota has muscled in on turf formerly held in an iron grip by Liverpool’s famous front three of Salah, Mane and Roberto Firmino. Salah has been a beneficiary of this, having scored twice from chances laid on by Jota this season while repaying the favour in kind.

More Liverpool v Tottenham content:

Bryan Mbeumo x Ivan Toney

  • Total assists for each other combined: 4
  • Mbeumo to Toney: 2
  • Toney to Mbeumo: 2

By far the outstanding promoted team of the season, Brentford are safe in 14th place at the time of writing on 40 points. Their top scorer Ivan Toney, who briefly set a record for most goals in a single Championship season last year with 31, has netted 12 times so far over the current top-flight campaign. That is one fewer than Harry Kane, while Bryn Mbeumo has seven assists for the season, as many as Son Heung-min.

“We praise Son and Kane a lot, but we need to praise Ivan and Bryan a lot,” said Brentford manager Thomas Frank. “The way they connect as a front two or a front three is extremely important.”

Michail Antonio x Said Benrahma

  • Total assists for each other combined: 5
  • Antonio to Benrahma: 3
  • Benrahma to Antonio: 2

Like Dennis, Michail Antonio’s output from August through to December greatly outweighs his productivity in 2022, with just one league goal in the calendar year. That said, West Ham as a team can look back on the 2021/22 campaign with pride, one in which as things stand only one Premier League duo have combined to create chances for each other on more occasions than Antonio and Said Benrahma (see the table below to find out who).

Benraham told reporters in October: “I was studying [Antonio’s] movements to understand him even better and now we have a good understanding. I know where he is going to run and hope this partnership on the pitch lasts a long time.

“Any player in the world would love to play behind Michail because he’s a fantastic striker and I hope we continue this patch of form for the rest of the season.”


Mohamed Salah x Sadio Mane

  • Total assists for each other combined: 5
  • Salah to Mane: 3
  • Mane to Salah: 2

When Liverpool play Tottenham on Saturday, Mane and Salah have the home-field advantage. The pair are expected to line up as part of Liverpool’s front-three alongside either Diogo Jota or Luis Diaz (the latter with momentum following his performance off the bench against Villarreal earlier in the week).

Mane and Salah operate traditionally away from each other, at opposite sides of the pitch, but the former has lately been fielded in a more central role. Even so, they have consistently managed to find each other over the years as Klopp encourages positional interchange. So far this season, they’ve combined to produce five Premier League goals. Salah created three of Mane’s goals while Mane repaid that with two assists.

Their harmony tells a different story to rumours of a rift between them, along with recent high-stakes meetings between Senegal and Egypt on the international scene. To date, the pair have played alongside each other 218 times in all competitions and were on-field rivals at the recent African Cup of Nations, which has naturally demanded more mileage from their bodies this season

Even this extended workload hasn’t slowed them down, leaving legendary former Arsenal head coach Arsene Wenger in awe of their heroics.

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“Look at Salah and Sadio [Mane], who played in the Africa Nations Cup final. What they have done since they have come back, it’s monstrous. We would have complained in Europe that we played too many games – never a word. Tonight [against Villarreal], Mane has been kicked all over the place, never a word,” he told beIN Sports.

Not every combination ends in the back of the net, though. Mane and Salah have combined to create no fewer than 20 chances, with the minor majority of those (11) ending with Salah — the league’s top scorer on 22 goals — attempting a shot on goal.

Most chances created for each other between Premier League duos (2021/22):

Team Player 1  Player 2 P1 to P2 Chances Created P2 to P1 Chances Created Chances Total
Tottenham Kane Son 13 17 30
West Ham Antonio Benrahma 14 15 29
Man United Fernandes Ronaldo 19 8 27
Brentford Mbeumo Toney 12 14 26
Arsenal Saka Ødegaard 7 17 24
Newcastle ASM Joelinton 12 11 23
Liverpool Salah TAA 8 13 21
Liverpool Salah Mané 9 11 20
Tottenham Lucas Son 12 8 20
Man City De Bruyne Foden 15 5 20


In actual fact Mane-Salah isn’t Liverpool’s most productive combination when it comes to chances created. That honour belongs to Salah and Trent Alexander-Arnold (21); that being said, their assist total is only three with Salah converting two of Alexander-Arnold’s passes.

Dejan Kulusevski x Son Heung-min

  • Total assists for each other combined: 6
  • Kulusevski to Son: 5
  • Son to Kulusevski: 1

It’s a testament to Liverpool’s squad-building that Klopp isn’t dependent on a single source for goals. The same is becoming true of Spurs, whose fortunes formerly rested on the shoulders of Kane and Son.

Having joined on loan from Juventus in January, Kulusevski has assisted more goals than any other Premier League player (8) since his debut in the competition. Son has converted five of those into goals and said of his new teammate: “He has something. With that young age, it’s not easy to be a Juventus player. When he trained the first time, it’s obviously not the best feeling because when new players come, you look at it by zooming in. What he’s good at and what he’s not good at. I was really impressed because it was a really good session from him in training.

“In the game, I know how tough the Premier League is and I suffer so much. I feel like I am still suffering because it’s the toughest league in the world. But Kulu had adapted really well after three months. Don’t forget, he has only been in the Premier League for three months. He’s really enjoying it and playing with freedom.”

Harry Kane x Son Heung-min

  • Total assists for each other combined: 7
  • Kane to Son: 5
  • Son to Kane: 2

After being heavily linked with moving to Manchester City last summer, Kane comes into this weekend on 13 goals. Slightly uncharacteristically, though, he is not Tottenham’s leading marksman. Son is currently Salah’s biggest challenge for this season’s Golden Boot.

The energetic South Korean forward has netted 19 times, with five of those goals assisted by Kane. In turn, Son has created two of the English strikers’ efforts. It’s no surprise to find out that no other pairing has combined to create as many goals.

Should they face Liverpool, which many expect, it will be their 12th meeting against the Merseyside giants. Interestingly, they’ve only combined to score one goal past the Reds, which came during a 4-1 rout at home in October 2017. On that day, Son struck to double Tottenham’s lead following a Kane cross.

As for Salah and Mane they have featured nine times before against Spurs, but are yet to combine to score past the Londoners although individually they’ve netted a combined nine times (Mane – 3, Salah – 6) which is one fewer their Spurs counterpart (Son – 3, Kane – 7).

It wouldn’t be surprising if Saturday’s game is ultimately decided by one of these talismanic duos.

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