It’s fitting that after a miserable January when Liverpool’s newest, most potent goal threat was away from the team, February’s goal of the month would go to the returning Sadio Mané.
The goal in question was his first of two against Spurs on February 11th that sealed the team’s impressive victory. The action begins when Adam Lallana does his business, stripping the ball off of a Spurs player in the middle of the pitch and passing it to Wijnaldum. Gini lays it off to Coutinho who passes it right back. Wijnaldum then slots a sweet through ball into the path of Mané, who expertly avoids the offside trap, outpaces two defenders and rifles the ball past Hugo Lloris.
Despite his winter absence, Mané is still Liverpool’s top scorer with 12 goals to his name so far this season. In the summer and fall, after that extent of Mané’s influence on Klopp’s set-up became clear, speculation about how the team would fare in that month without him began in earnest.
The reality of the situation was even worse than the doomsayers predicted. And while Mané’s absence wasn’t solely to blame for Liverpool’s sudden and precipitous drop in form at the start of the year, it was certainly a strong contributing factor.
It’s troubling that no one else stepped up to carry some of the load in his place, and it’s unsurprising that in February it was Mané who nabbed the honor of best goal as the team began to claw its way out of the mess they found themselves in.
Thankfully with eleven games to go, and with the battle for top four well and truly on, Mané is again available for Klopp to utilize. His next test will be to break down Burnley this Sunday when they come to Anfield.