With Sadio Mané back from the Africa Cup of Nations, Dave Davis believes the Senegal international can give his club team the boost they so desperately need.
The month of January couldn’t really have gone any worse for Liverpool. Their draw at Sunderland and FA cup win over Plymouth have been the high points, after defeats to Wolves, Southampton and Swansea. No new signings look like heading into Melwood either, despite many the grumblings of many fans. Amazingly, though, tonight’s fixture with Chelsea could turn everything around and one man may have a huge part to play in that.
Sadio Mané played 120 minutes for Senegal against Cameroon on Saturday. His miss from the spot saw his nation knocked out of the AFCON and so devastated was the 24-year-old that he had to be helped from the pitch. Liverpool sent a commiserations tweet, but we all know what 99% of fans were actually thinking. The private jet was quickly fired up and it was reported that the former Southampton winger was landing on Sunday.
Liverpool have desperately missed Mané and it would be no surprise if he actually started against the league leaders. His pace and direct style will trouble any team and he still remains our top goalscorer. The likes of Sturridge and Origi haven’t stepped up to the plate in his absence and Klopp has warned about burnout fears for Firmino. Anfield has been quiet for some time as Liverpool have struggled to score goals and have been giving them out cheaply at the other end.
Exits from both domestic cups means the fixture list has changed dramatically too. Liverpool now only have three games in the month of February after a crazy opening to the year. A two-week gap between Tottenham and Leicester City is plenty of time to recuperate for Mané and Firmino and Liverpool’s first-choice front three seems the honest answer to what’s needed right now.
It’s not a short trip to get back from Gabon, though, and Mane’s exploits may well have taken a toll on him. The natural devastation was clear for all to see with reports that he was unable to answer journalists questions. 120 minutes in heat will also drain any player, so his recovery period will be affected and how many sessions he has to prepare for the game will be called into question.
Only Jürgen Klopp and his staff will be fully aware of Mané’s physical and mental state and they’ll proceed carefully. The sight of our top scorer on the bench would give everyone a very welcome boost though without a doubt. The naming of Mane in a front three with Coutinho and Firmino may give Anfield the lift off its needing, though.