Sadio Mane was comfortably Liverpool’s star performer during the Premier League champions’ 2-1 defeat to Arsenal on Wednesday night.
Indeed, the result was disappointing, but if not for some poor defending, Mane’s impressive individual display would be receiving more positive attention.
So let’s give the Senegalese ace his due. His performance was impressive as he scored one and was by far Liverpool’s best-attacking threat.
His goal took his tally in the Premier League to 17 goals. Mane now has contributed 23 goals for Liverpool in 45 appearances this season.
Mane touched the ball 69 times in 90 minutes and made the most of every time he was involved.
He had an impressive six attempts at goal, two of which were on target while two were blocked. No Liverpool player had more shots.
Mane also produced four key passes, which was only bettered by Andy Robertson who assisted Mane for the goal after a beautifully worked move down the left-flank saw Roberto Firmino and Robertson combine before the Scotsman cut-back a beautifully weighted pass that was tucked home by Liverpool’s No.10.
One statistic that stood out and was surprised to see was the number of aerial duels Mane was able to win. He managed to successfully win 60 per cent of his aerial duels (3) and the only other Liverpool player to better Mane in that department was Virgil van Dijk with six.
Where Mane really caused problems was his intent to run with the ball at Arsenal’s defence. This led to his goal, and so nearly another spectacular effort in the second half.
While he only managed to successfully complete just two dribbles, only substitute Naby Keita was able to complete more after an impressive cameo off the bench for the Guinean midfielder.
Teammates couldn’t match quality
While Mane will be pleased with the way he took his goal and got the team going, Liverpool failed to conjure up any real threat from their 24 shots in comparison to Arsenal’s three.
Liverpool were far too reliant to utilise the left-flank occupied by Mane and Robertson and the team kept looking to the Reds duo for ideas when little options were elsewhere.
Mane’s overall impact against Arsenal was excellent and he was the only Liverpool player to really stand out for positive reasons, without letting themselves down.
If he plays like this against Chelsea next, and the rest of his teammates actually show up for this fixture, Liverpool can be confident they are capable of getting the three points.
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