In his time here, Sadio Mane has gained a bit of a reputation as a big game player. He’s managed to score in multiple Merseyside Derbies. He’s scored in the Champions League final. And earlier this season, he scored the opener against Manchester United, in the 3-1 victory which would end up being the final nail in Jose Mourinho’s coffin.
For the Senegalese striker, the key is not to elevate the affair beyond what it ultimately is: a chance for Liverpool to win another vital three points.
“Everybody knows it is a derby and against United it is always tough, but we are confident and think we can do it. We are going to go there and try to do everything to win the game,” Mane told liverpoolfc.com
“They are confident and so are we, so it’ll be a tough game and we will see what happens.
“Every single game now for us is very, very big. We know that, so let’s focus and take it game by game.”
Mane is quietly having a great season. He’s had his most consistent season since coming to Merseyside (helped, no doubt by his lack of injuries, suspensions, or the African Cup of Nations). His 12 league goals are good enough for 5th best in the Premier League, on level pegging with Eden Hazard and Raheem Sterling. It’s strange that the Senegalese striker isn’t mentioned in the same breath as his white and English counterparts. Weird.
Mane’s consistent, game by game approach has helped lift Liverpool to their current spot, level on points with Manchester City at the top of the table, with one game in hand. Of course, that one game is against the biggest of the big rivals, Manchester United.
“We always want to be top of the table – and you can only do that by winning games. We have another important game and we know if we win it where it will take us [in the table], so we will go there, enjoy it and try to win the game.
“As I always say, putting pressure on ourselves is not going to help us. This game is like all other big games – we respect them, but I think we can also beat any team.”
United have come to life under new manager Ole Gunnar Solskjær. However, good teams have been able to get at them. Spurs absolutely battered United, and easily did enough to win, were it not for poor finishing and a David de Gea masterclass. Last week, a Neymar-less PSG went to Old Trafford and thoroughly bossed the home side around in the Champions League, taking a 2-0 advantage back to Paris.
Hopefully Liverpool (including Mane) make up for poor finishing in the midweek match against Bayern, with a killer performance tomorrow afternoon.