Sadio Mane might be Liverpool’s top Premier League goalscorer this season but it’s arguably his work off the ball which has been most impressive.
Although he’s always been one of Jurgen Klopp’s most important stars, Mane has well and truly hit his stride, scoring five league goals and creating 13 chances – only Trent Alexander-Arnold (28) and Mohamed Salah (16) have laid on more.
Sadio Mane’s 2019/20 Premier League season so far: Four key stats…
- Goals: 5
- Chances created: 13
- Tackles: 14
- Duels won: 43
But, of course, Klopp demands so much more from his players and isn’t satisfied unless each and every member of his squad is enacting his gameplan down to the smallest detail – including his famed high press.
“Mané, for me, is [in the] top three players in the world and has been for a while. Top, top level.”
Mane has flourished in that regard this season, making 14 tackles so far, second only to Fabinho (20) in the Liverpool squad, while he has also won the ball in the final third 10 times.
The former Southampton man has also upped his duels won per 90 minutes rate from 5.43 in 2018/19 to 6.37 this season. Without Mane, Klopp’s side wouldn’t be able to transition with such ferocious speed, robbing them of arguably their most potent weapon.
Joel Matip quickly becoming Liverpool’s “sung hero”
We all know the importance of Virgil van Dijk to Liverpool’s defence but, more recently, Joel Matip has been getting more and more praise, and rightly so.
Once the unsung hero of the Reds’ backline, Matip ranks second at Liverpool this season for duels won (53), aerial duels won (36) and blocks (3) in the Premier League.
His form in the European champions’ 100 per cent start to the domestic season saw him pick up the PFA Premier League Player of the Month Award for September, while Klopp described his signing as “maybe one of the best pieces of business” he’s done during his time on Merseyside.
With these sorts of plaudits, you can’t call Matip an “unsung hero” anymore but, still, his form is currently keeping Joe Gomez out of the starting XI and providing Van Dijk with a rock-solid, reliable partner as Liverpool look to secure their first league title in 30 years.