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Sadio Mané played his False 9 role to perfection vs Aston Villa

Sadio Mané put in a fantastic display against Aston Villa for Liverpool but more importantly, played his role to perfection. Jurgen Klopp loved what he saw.

Jurgen Klopp had a lot of praise for Sadio Mané after Liverpool beat Aston Villa – and we mean a lot. You can tell just how much he loves his no.10, with Klopp beaming as he talked.

“He’s a machine and I told him after the game,” Klopp told Sky Sports. “Massive player, massive player.

“His physicality is brutal. The mix of technique, desire and physicality at the moment when everybody has a few yards in their legs – you can’t see it with him, to be honest.”

That came after Mané scored the winning goal at Villa Park. It’s one that keeps Liverpool in the title race and was the latest in a string of massive goals from the Senegal star.

We’ve repeatedly talked about how good Mané has been of late. In fact, he might be playing the best football of his career. But what we saw on Tuesday night was the exact kind of False 9 performance Liverpool needed.

Sadio Mané plays role to perfection against Aston Villa

Klopp started using Mané centrally as his False 9 around February and there were immediate, positive results. He scores regularly from the role, while offering pace in behind that someone like Roberto Firmino can’t.

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What Firmino does, though, is drop deep and get heavily involved as the link between midfield and attack. Diogo Jota struggles to do that when playing through the middle – it’s incredibly difficult to offer that link while also threatening as a traditional striker.

Mané manages to do it, however. That was vital against Villa, who packed the middle of the pitch to try and stop Liverpool get anywhere centrally.

Photo by Naomi Baker/Getty Images

Steven Gerrard played a midfield diamond, with three sitting centre-mids and Philippe Coutinho in front of them. That made it incredibly difficult for Liverpool to link through the middle and the only way around that was for Mané to move up a gear.

Firmino can do that – he becomes heavily involved in such a game. It turns out Mané can do that, too, as he managed 50 touches last night. Villa packed the central space but Mané still managed to find his touches.

On top of that, he won three headers, a tackle and created a chance. All to go along with his winning goal. This was Mané at his very best in the role, offering the all-around game Liverpool want while also scoring as their biggest goal-threat.

All stats per Whoscored.

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