Whatever happens this week, Liverpool will end the month of January top of the Premier League table. They have the league’s stingiest defence. They’re set to take on Bayern Munich in the Champions League knockout rounds.
Few would argue against the suggestion that this is a ver, very good side in very, very good form. Liverpool’s own Sadio Mané might take issue, though, at least with the latter part, as the attacker says this is a side that hasn’t shown its best yet.
“We heard what some of the media were saying about us not starting off by playing as fast and exciting as last year,” Mané told World Soccer. “The results have been there but we know we could have done more with some of our performances.
“We are very competitive but know there is even more to come, for sure. In many ways, the team is stronger and we have produced some very mature performances. Hopefully we will hit our top form when it matters most.”
Given their league position and four-point lead on Manchester City, the richest club in the world, it’s felt as though “it matters most” almost every week now for quite some time—and throughout, Liverpool have managed to hold their nerve.
Now, they face three games that on paper at least they will be expected to win: Leicester City, West Ham, and Bournemouth. Then comes Bayern and the Champions League. It will be tough, and there will be pressure, but top players embrace that.
Rather than being daunted, they turn that pressure to their advantage, using it to help drive them to even better performances. And that’s what Mané and his teammates will be trying to do now, to embrace and use that pressure—and to win a major trophy.
“I can’t wait to lift a trophy with Liverpool,” the 26-year-old Senegalese star added. “I know the fans are desperate for us to win the Premier League. It would be an amazing moment for the club. It has been far too long for a team the size of Liverpool.
“We believe we are heading in the right direction, but there are some very tough rivals.”