Liverpool swept aside Bournemouth in a 3-0 win on Saturday that saw the Premier League’s current joint top scorer, Mohamed Salah, add to his tally. Instead, Maryam Naz shifts the focus onto Sadio Mane, who also scored against the Cherries, exploring three reasons why it’s the Senegalese striker who is crucial to Liverpool’s title-winning hopes.
The man for the big occasion
The 26-year-old forward recently claimed the accolade of scoring four goals in four consecutive games for the first time in his career.
Yet, while this took him into double figures for the season, it also aided the Reds’ title-winning chances in clinching vital points against West Ham and Leicester City – games that only ended in draws thanks to Mane’s goals.
On Saturday, against Eddie Howe’s side, Mane once again proved his abilities in front of the Kop. His scored first with a wonderfully-timed header that evaded Asmir Begovic’s reach.
While Liverpool might have made easy pickings of the travelling team, every point counts in the run-in to the title and Mane is proving to be a helpful contributor to the cause when it matters the most.
Smart positional play
Unlike Mohamed Salah, who is ruthless in front of goal, and Roberto Firmino, who is adept at making runs behind the back four, Mane’s forte lies in smart positional play.
Against Bournemouth’s back four, he skilfully exploited holes in the defence, thriving off cutting through-balls and crosses from Fabinho and James Milner – exactly the kind of build-up play that led to his goal.
The pacey forward found himself relatively unmarked in the centre of the box and was able to make the most of one of Milner’s trademark deliveries.
Mane also had the chance to add to his tally in the last moments of the game where he evaded Bournemouth’s defenders at the far corner but somehow missed the target.
If he continues to find himself in fruitful attacking positions, he could add an extra dimension to an already-prolific Liverpool attack.
Pace, power, punch
If it wasn’t already obvious, Mane is at his most explosive on the counter, using his pace, power and punch to strike a deadly blow on the opposition defence.
There were spells against the Cherries where, through Mane, Jurgen Klopp’s side sprung a surprise attack on Bournemouth’s defenders, only narrowly missing out on extending the scoreline.
The likes of Nathan Ake and Steve Cook had a torrid time in keeping Mane in check and were unable to fully join in on the attack against Liverpool’s goal, such was his attacking prowess.
Given that Liverpool face Bayern Munich and Manchester United next – two teams that do play on the front foot and consequently leave space in behind for a potential break – Mane will come in useful if Liverpool are to progress into the latter stages of the Champions League and extend their winning streak in the Premier League.
Follow Maryam on Twitter at @mnaz98