2017 was starting to look like a prolonged nightmare for Liverpool Football Club, but Sadio Mané may have finally woken the club from its weeks-long sleepwalking on the pitch. Two goals in three minutes highlighted a frantic first half in which the Senegalese forward terrorized a rearguard that had conceded just sixteen goals in the league prior to this contest.
Though not at full strength, the Spurs back four still featured plenty of experience -with Eric Dier coming in for Jan Vertonghen - in front of stalwart goalkeeper Hugo Lloris. Liverpool, in stark contrast, had looked out of sorts in front of goal since we closed the books on 2016. This was not expected to be a match in which the Reds’ forwards found themselves with a plethora of chances.
As things turned out, the hosts were in a higher gear from the first minute of the match, and Mané had a large part to play in that. Though Liverpool’s forward line had sputtered against Hull City, they were now playing opponents showing greater inclination to go toe-to-toe against Klopp’s squad, which allowed Mané’s ferocity and pace to constantly unsettle Spurs’ high defensive line.
Guilty of overthinking things at times during their recent barren spell, Liverpool’s forwards showed a greater directness against Pochettino’s side. Mané was a constant example of this renewed focus, taking full advantage of some uncharacteristic uncertainty from Tottenham. It would not be an exaggeration to say that he could have had three or four before the end of the first half.
When the second half came and Liverpool were asked to hold firm against the expected assault from the visitors, the Senegalese forward switched gears and used his pace to set the example for Klopp’s defend-from-the-front philosophy. The comeback attempt was muted, and the closest Spurs came to scoring was a bounce off the post from an offside Harry Kane.
There haven’t been too many memorable performances from Liverpool players in the past month, so take a few minutes to enjoy highlights of Mané’s display yesterday, and let’s hope that there will be more of this in the coming weeks.