Mohamed Salah is right now having an extraordinary season. At the time of writing he has 28 goals in 31 games for Liverpool, after the Reds dismantled Watford 5-0, with the Egyptian scoring 4 goals and assisting Firmino’s backheel volley. Salah is on pace to potentially match or break the goal scoring record of 31 goals in a 38 game season (shared by Alan Shearer, Cristiano Ronaldo and Luis Suarez). If he does so, he would see his season etched in history as one of the greatest individual performances throughout a season, since the Premier League was formed in 1992. With that being said, let’s take a look at previous legendary seasons by players in the league’s history.
Alan Shearer: 1995-1996
This was the first season in the EPL where teams played a total of 38 games, down from the previous three season’s 42 games per season. The lesser amount of games didn’t seem to bother the league’s all-time greatest goalscorer, whom following his record tally of 34 goals the season prior, scored another 31 goals this season, cementing himself as one of the best strikers the English game has ever seen. While the record has since been matched twice, the fact that it happened so early in a time when the current format of the league was in its infancy, proves that it was truly the first, great season by an individual.
Thierry Henry: 2002-2003
Considered by many to be the best player in EPL history, Henry was steadily growing his legend following his move to Arsenal in 1999. It was in the 2002-2003 season, where he wrote himself in the history books, following an explosive statistical season finishing with 24 goals and 20 assists. While his 24 goals was one shy of that year’s golden boot winner, Ruud van Nistelrooy, his 20 assists is still a record, meaning that he was involved in 1.18 goals every match. He was a statistical anomaly, and to this day his assist record still hasn’t been equalled or beaten, and he was a striker.
Thierry Henry: 2003-2004
While it may seem unfair to include him twice, there is a reason he’s held in such high esteem. While he didn’t get involved in as many goals as his previous season, only assisting 6, he did set his own personal best of 30 goals scored. But it isn’t just his individual stats that make this season standout, as this was the season Arsenal went invincible, and it can easily be said that if it weren’t for Henry, Arsenal would never have been the only team in EPL history thus far to have gone an entire season undefeated. That alone warrants its place on this list.
John Terry: 2004-2005
Strikers and midfielders can’t get all the credit, as John Terry proved throughout his illustrious career. During this legendary season by Chelsea under Jose Mourinho, they set numerous records along the way, including the total points tally of 95, and a lot of this has to be attributed to Terry and Chelsea’s stout defence. Chelsea had only conceded 15 goals across the season, and Terry was the General of that backline, highlighting his exceptional skills as a defender and as a leader. He was awarded the PFA Player of the Year award, as well as a place in the FIFPro World XI, UEFA Team of the Year, among other awards, for his efforts in leading perhaps the best defence in Premier League history.
Cristiano Ronaldo: 2007-2008
For his first three seasons in Manchester United, the general consensus surrounding Ronaldo was that he was a skinny showboat, who went down to easily and cared more for showing his tricks then helping his team out. All of this changed following the 2006 World Cup, where he underwent a physical transformation and unleashed his potential. It was the 2007-2008 season where he proved he was a force in football, as he scored 31 goals in the league, tying Shearer’s record all the while playing as a wide midfielder. On the way to winning the League and Champions League with United, he picked up the PFA Player of the Year, and the Ballon d’Or, while making a mockery of opposing teams with his tricks and stunning goals. This was the season where Ronaldo stamped himself as one of the best players of his generation.
Robin van Persie: 2011-2012
The summer of 2011 was looking dire for Arsenal, as they had lost a host of first team stars that had moved on from the club. Cesc Fabregas returned home to Barcelona, while Samir Nasri and Gael Clichy made the switch to the surging Manchester City. In the absence of Fabregas, van Persie was made captain although not much was expected of Arsenal that season. The Dutchman didn’t disappoint, and what he did that season was nothing short of carrying, taking what was possibly the worst Arsenal side on paper in decades all the way to a 3rd place finish, while scoring 30 goals in the process. Despite the fact that he then switched to Manchester United the following summer, had it not been for his exploits in 2012, Arsenal may have collapsed, but he kept them afloat and allowed them to spend several more years in the Champions League, and allowed them to stay relevant for years to come.
Gareth Bale: 2012-2013
While Gareth Bale didn’t set statistical records throughout this season, he replicated the carrying job of van Persie a year later, with Arsenal’s local rivals, Tottenham Hotspur. Having already established himself as a star in the league, this season Bale took it to another level, doing everything in his power to help the Spurs get into the top four, and although they fell short, Bale still comfortably picked up the PFA Player of the Year award for his troubles. 21 goals and 4 assists in 33 games is still a fantastic effort, especially in a Tottenham side that were still growing, with the Welshman shouldering the burden on the attack. You only have to look back at the highlights, and see all the last-minute screamers he bagged, to see why that season earned him a then world-record transfer to Real Madrid.
Luis Suarez: 2013-2014
Luis Suarez’s time at Liverpool was incredibly controversial, having been involved in a racism scandal with Patrice Evra, and a biting incident with Branislav Ivanovic, all within his first two and a half years with the club, following his move to Liverpool in January 2011 from Ajax. After returning to the team in September 2013 following his ban from biting Ivanovic, he didn’t miss a beat, scoring goals for fun, as Liverpool became one of the best attacking sides in the league’s history. He almost single-handedly took Liverpool to the title, with them falling short to an outstanding Manchester City by 2 points. Suarez still scored 31 goals in 33 games, and also assisted 12, placing up there with Ronaldo in 2008 and Henry in 2003 and 2004, as one of the most mesmerising seasons by a player. He moved to Barcelona shortly after, but Liverpool fans hold the Uruguayan in high regard, as his stellar season almost won them the Premier League title, for the first time.