Liverpool v Tottenham Hotspur - Premier League


3 key passes, 2 tackles: Liverpool player did okay but Reds badly missed 'insane' Klopp favourite last night

Sadio Mané had a decent game for Liverpool against Tottenham Hotspur. His performance showed how the Reds missed someone else, however.

Liverpool played out a hard-fought 1-1 draw at Anfield with Tottenham Hotspur last night. It was a game that saw the Reds control possession for the most part but Spurs really controlled the game – it went exactly how they wanted it to.

They even took the lead here as Liverpool were caught out at the back. Luis Diaz replied with a deflected equaliser but for the most part, Spurs kept the Reds forwards quiet.

That’s not to say they played poorly, however. Take Sadio Mané, for instance, who created three chances in the game and won two tackles. That’s the kind of performance Liverpool want from their False 9 but in a very un-Mané-like stat, he only had the one shot. In another, he didn’t complete any dribbles.

That from a player who is in sparkling goal-scoring form, as we recently wrote. Mané fine form has come as he’s mostly offered the difficult bit of the False 9 role while maintaining his scoring record. Unfortunately, Spurs stripped him of a goal threat as they packed the box with five defenders.

It meant Mané had to fall back on playing the link-man role and pressing hard in order to have an influence on the game. And when that’s the case, we see how much Liverpool miss Roberto Firmino.

Sadio Mané for Liverpool vs Tottenham

Firmino doesn’t have the pace of Mané, nor does he score goals at the same rate. But the role Liverpool’s no.10 played against Spurs is exactly what the Brazilian thrives on.

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He wants to play in tight spaces with his back to goal. Firmino offers more of a physical presence up top, too, and can drag players towards him on crosses. All while doing the tackling, pressing and the passing that Mané did against Spurs.

There’s a reason, after all, that Jurgen Klopp says the Brazilian is ‘insane’ for all he does – you could ‘write a book’ about him, apparently. This was the kind of game where Liverpool needed that level of a False 9. The pace in attacking just wasn’t there and the Reds called something different.

Photo by Chris Brunskill/Fantasista/Getty Images

Firmino has done it before against a deep Spurs team, after all.

In many games, Mané is ideal in that central role where he can do the dropping back while also offering a supreme threat in behind. Against Spurs, though, Liverpool missed having their False 9 expert. Firmino could have helped them control the game far better and, potentially, unlock the Spurs defence for his other forwards.

It’s a shame but this was a reminder of just how important Firmino can be.

All stats per Whoscored.

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