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Saturday, October 17, 2020

Mane can ease Liverpool's pressing concerns

Adrian Clarke looks at key tactical points in Matchweek 5.

The return of Sadio Mane is a timely and very welcome boost for Liverpool ahead of the Merseyside derby.  

After testing positive for COVID-19, the Senegalese forward had to sit out the shock 7-2 defeat at Aston Villa.  

Mane had been outstanding across the opening three matches and now he is fit to play is the man Everton are likely to fear most.  

Underrated ball-winner 

Liverpool did not press well in that humbling defeat at Villa Park.  

Villa beat their subdued efforts to close down with ease to open up space that allowed them to create lots of opportunities.  

Mane's industrious presence was sorely missed.  

Diogo Jota, Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah regained possession a total of just four times inside the attacking half, a figure way down on the Liverpool forward line's average.  

Defensive contributions of front three 2020/21 Mane Salah Firmino Recoveries 13 8 7 Interceptions 3 0 0 Tackles won 2 1 3

Across their first three Premier League matches, the hardworking Mane regained the ball 18 times inside the opposition half.  

Chasing down loose balls and pressing rival players with intensity, his productivity was by far the best of the champions' front three.  

Now Mane's available for selection again, he should help Jurgen Klopp's men block off the passing lines and be less exposed to situations where Everton can slide passes in behind their high line.  

From the extra turnovers Mane creates, Liverpool also tend to create quality opportunities to score.  

Coleman ambition to be stunted?

Seamus Coleman loves to fly forward from right-back for Everton but the presence of Mane will limit his sense of adventure at Goodison Park.  

Everton manager Carlo Ancelotti must find a way to stop Liverpool's attacking left-back Andrew Robertson joining Mane to create overloads that will trouble Coleman.  

Ancelotti's summer signing James Rodriguez will not want to track back too far into his own half, so midfield team-mate Abdoulaye Doucoure will need to move across to block Robertson's progress.  

If Doucoure does not react quickly enough Everton will find it difficult to handle Liverpool's left-sided combination.  

When Robertson has the ball on the wing and Mane drifts into central positions, like he did against Chelsea and Arsenal, the Senegalese can be one of the most lethal players in the competition. 

Bringing energy and efficiency 

Everton v Liverpool is a fixture that has ended goalless in each of the previous three campaigns.  

But after their own superb start to the campaign, coupled with Liverpool's defensive troubles, the blue side will fancy their chances of scoring in this Merseyside derby.  

The key to their prospects of landing all three points will be containing Mane and Salah.  

Sharp shooters

Both men are getting on the end of plenty of chances this season. 

In fact they are both in the top five for shots per match in the 2020/21 Premier League.

Player Shots per 90 Mitrovic 4.85 Kane 4.83 Salah 4.75 Mane 4.50 Richarlison 4.29

Salah has scored once every 72 minutes, with Mane averaging a goal every 87 minutes. 

When you look at the form of both sets of attackers this really does have the potential to be one of the most exciting Merseyside derbies in years.  

Also in this series

Part 1: McNeil can help Burnley make extra possession countPart 2: Newcastle duo Wilson and Hendrick making their markPart 3: Can Guardiola strike right balance against Arsenal?

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