Sadio Mane Is Back But Can He And Mohamed Salah Continue Their Fiery Form For Liverpool?
When the season started, critics and fans alike were stunned with the kind of firepower displayed by Sadio Mane and summer arrival Mohamed Salah in Liverpool’s attack. The players were signed for a combined fee of £68m (Salah for £34m and Mane for £34m as well). However, with Mane’s recent injury, the front line did lack that edge. Even Salah appeared to struggle to an extent without the blistering support from Mane. In the match against West Ham though, fans were delighted to see their beloved attacker back after that dreadful injury – and it only showed how important Mane is for Liverpool. They effortlessly beat the Hammers 4-1 to seal three crucial points, and will be looking to maintain the momentum.
It was interesting to note how Jurgen Klopp changed his tactics a bit against West Ham. The manager has generally deployed a 4-3-3 system at Liverpool since the start of last season, but he fielded a 4-2-3-1 and handed a different role to Salah, who has been his side’s best performer so far this season.
One may have expected Oxlade-Chamberlain to start in the central midfield role he supposedly wants to play in, alongside Emre Can and Georginio Wijnaldum, but he was instead deployed on the right wing. Mane played on the left and Roberto Firmino led the line, which resulted in Salah playing as a number 10, thus bridging the gap between midfield and attack.
However, as the match progressed, Salah played more like a second centre-forward. It was a slightly disjointed system, and while Salah is strong in counter-attacks, it remains to be seen whether he has the intelligence to change his position and play different roles in upcoming matches.
Against West Ham, Salah stayed too high up the pitch, with him and Firmino tormenting West Ham’s three-man defence. What Liverpool surely required was someone who could drop off, create three-against-two situations in the midfield to bypass the likes of Noble and Pedro Obiang. However, it was both Firmino and Mane who made more significant darts into those zones.
Thus, while sketchy, the system seems to be working for Klopp, with the inclusion of Mane in the squad. Where the club struggled earlier, they seem to be doing a lot better, as Salah and Mane link up once more. However, they need to continue this in the upcoming matches beyond the international break since they will be a lot tougher and more demanding. The Reds struggled against deeply-defensive teams but with Mane in the side, Klopp can look to experiment a bit more in order to penetrate even the toughest of defences.