When Jurgen Klopp looks back through Liverpool’s wretched performance against Southampton, one player, in particular, perhaps can emerge with some sense of credibility.
Sadio Mane was desperately unlucky to be on the losing team. Even though he himself was miles from his best, he was still head-and-shoulders above the majority of his teammates.
The Senegalese ace was doing what his attacking counterparts, Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino failed to do all evening – he chased balls and made runs forward to ask questions of the Southampton defence.
Mane created two chances, completed five dribbles and registered Liverpool’s only shot on target, as per WhoScored.
In the first half, Liverpool were too passive and it was concerning how few options were made available to Mane every time he got himself in a good position.
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He was the only attacking player who offered any kind of impetus when going forward, and who actually tried to make things happen.
It was particularly telling that Mane’s total of 68 touches was more than double that of Mohamed Salah (33) – who once again, was a periphial figure from start-to-finish.
Having scored in their first 15 league games of the season, Liverpool have drawn a blank in their last two.
2021 starts with a warning
Concerning, to say the least. Liverpool had all of the game, after all, but precious few chances.
Time-after-time, they worked the ball into decent areas pinning the hosts back. But time-after-time, the killer instinct was lacking.
The culprits were everywhere, too. Salah was sluggish, anonymous, way off the pace. Firmino buzzed but rarely threatened.
Three games and only two points, 44 shots and only two goals certainly makes for a concerning read.
At least Mane carried the fight and never stopped trying, even if he did lack his usual precision.
Liverpool fans react to Mane performance
His efforts were appreciated by supporters amid a result which is hard to take.