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Analysing Sadio Mane’s scintillating performance for Liverpool against Arsenal

Rob Meech

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Mane

Liverpool produced a wonderful display of attacking football to outclass sorry Arsenal at Anfield. Central to their victory was Sadio Mane, who once again underlined his influence in Jurgen Klopp’s side.

The Senegal international made it three goals in as many Premier League matches this season as Liverpool continued their unbeaten start to the 2017/18 campaign.

There was much more to Mane’s performance than just the goal, however. He was a constant menace all afternoon and in particular gave Rob Holding, playing on the right of Arsenal’s central defensive trio, a torrid time.

Mane’s link-up play with Roberto Firmino, who opened the scoring, was near telepathic and along with Mohamed Salah, the Reds’ front three showed there could be life after Philippe Coutinho, who remains sidelined through injury amid continuing interest from Barcelona.

Mane has been a revelation at Liverpool since joining from Southampton last year. With 16 goals in 30 Premier League appearances, his statistics are phenomenal. Remember, Mane is not an out-and-out striker but a player who likes to cut in from the left.

That was how he doubled Liverpool’s advantage after Firmino had given the hosts a deserved lead.

Arsenal had been threatening at the other end of the pitch but their attack broke down and the Reds countered with pace and in numbers. Firmino released Mane, who shifted the ball onto his right foot and unleashed an unstoppable curling strike that beat Petr Cech’s despairing dive.

Holding, talented but still raw at the highest level, would not have faced a sterner examination than that provided by Mane, whose movement and trickery was too much to handle.

The 25-year-old is brilliantly unpredictable. He can be direct and use his blistering pace to outstrip his opponent. Alternatively, his excellent hold-up play brings his team-mates into the equation.

Mane was substituted by Klopp on 74 minutes to warm applause from the Anfield crowd after another decisive contribution. His participation in the Africa Cup of Nations earlier this year came at the same time as Liverpool’s poor run of form, which extinguished their title hopes. This was no coincidence.

The arrival of Salah will have eased the burden somewhat, but Mane’s importance cannot be overstated. With three goals in three games, he has started this season as he ended the last. These are exciting times for Liverpool supporters.

Rob is a freelance writer, specialising in football, who previously worked as a sports journalist at the Dorset Echo. A long-standing AFC Bournemouth supporter, Rob can often be found on the terraces at the Vitality Stadium. Follow him on Twitter - @RobMeech

Arsenal

Arsenal and Chelsea receive huge boost in pursuit of Aleksandr Golovin

The London rivals have been given an edge over Juventus in the pursuit it seems.

Jamie Watts

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Photo: Getty Images

London rivals Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea have recieved a huge boost in their pursuit of Russian maestro Aleksandr Golovin, after the play-maker’s father revealed he is currently learning English, in quotes via Russian outlet Komsomolskaya Pravda.

Italian giants Juventus are said to be courting the CSKA Moscow midfielder closely, with some reports even claiming a deal had been agreed between the two clubs (Calciomercato). However, the new revelation from the player’s father suggests the move is anything but a formality, and Chelsea and Arsenal remain in the race.

“He [Golovin] now has one thing on his mind: the Russian team. But if such proposals are made, I believe that he will go abroad, play abroad,” the Russian international’s father claimed.

“Their football is of a different level, there is nowhere to hide. Speeds are different. I’m sure my son will be able to play at a new level. It will be more difficult with a foreign language. But I know that he has already started learning English.”

Photo: Getty Images

Arsenal have no plans of slowing down in the transfer window after agreeing a deal for 34-year-old Stephan Lichtsteiner and closing in on Lucas Torreira. SportBILD claims that a deal for Bernd Leno is also close to being completed, as personal terms have been agreed. And now it would appear Unai Emery is keen on continuing the pursuit for Golovin.

However, they will face stern competition from west London, as Chelsea have expressed an interest in signing the 22-year-old, with the Express claiming that the club are looking to quickly encore the managerial appointment of Maurizio Sarri with the Italian’s long-spanning target.

CSKA are said to want £22 million before they would be willing to do business for a player they regard as one of the most influential in their squad, while they also assert that a sell-on clause will be part of any deal, to ensure they dont miss out should the player’s market value drastically increase in the future, according to The Sun.

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Ever Banega could be the midfielder Manuel Pellegrini is looking for at West Ham

Manuel Pellegrini should look to act now if he’s serious about landing quality midfielders this summer.

Jamie Watts

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Valencia midfielder Ever Banega is reportedly being courted by Arsenal this summer, according to Gazza Mercato, as Unai Emery has managed the Argentine international at both Valencia and Sevilla. But West Ham should be looking to get in on the action.

The reports claim the 29-year-old’s agent will fly to north London to hold talks with the Gunners over a potential move, but Manuel Pellegrini will surely throw his name in the hat once the player arrives in the capital.

At the reported fee of £10.5 million – with his contract set to expire imminently – the former Inter Milan man could very well become the bargain of the summer, in a frantic market where players of his calibre go for five times the fee.

Photo: Getty Images

Pellegrini has been tasked with getting West Ham back to playing attacking and progressive football next term, and has identified a midfielder as the key to ushering in his new philosophy. The Chilean boss has courted the likes of Javier Pastore, Yaya Toure, Mario Lemina and most recently Jack Wilshere, but progress has stalled recently on the first three, and Banega could present a key opportunity to land a serious player on great terms.

The fleet-footed play-maker bases his game around control and creativity, buzzing around receiving the ball to feet frequently, before crafting attacks using his exceptional vision and passing range.

Photo: Getty Images

Banega’s impact was incredibly noticeable in Argentina’s 1-1 draw with Iceland at the weekend, as a second-half introduction sparked Lionel Messi and co into a far more dangerous outfit. The little maestro was constantly available for the ball and kept pressure sustained for long-periods, acting as the catalyst for building attacks after a disjointed first-half display.

And his style would certainly elevate the Hammers’ play next season in the England. Banega is that good, he could quickly become recognised as one of the finest Premier League midfielders and Pellegrini may regret letting him go to Arsenal uncontested.

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Fans criticise Jack Wilshere omission after Jordan Henderson’s ‘toothless’ England performance

Gareth Southgate’s bold decision is already being questioned.

Jamie Watts

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England put an end to the World Cup opener curse after Harry Kane’s stoppage time winner ensured England started the tournament with a victory, with Tunisia looking more than likely to take their share of the points in Volgograd.

After a promising opening 20 minutes, England’s shortcomings in front of goal were punished as Tunisia were awarded a penalty – using VAR – and Ferjani Sassi equalised from the spot, heaping pressure on Gareth Southgate’s outfit to score a second.

But creativity was scarce from the Three Lions, in what was a stressful and frustrating half to watch for the nation.

Photo: Getty Images

And Liverpool skipper Jordan Henderson has come under fire for his performance in the heart of the midfield, with many believing that Arsenal‘s Jack Wilshere would have been more creative and imaginative in central midfield, if he wasn’t omitted from international duties this earlier this summer.

Henderson frequently opted for possession over creativity and was guilty of taking too many touches in the midfield yesterday, particularly in the second half and the speed of play was directly affected as a result.

Here’s the Twitter reaction:

By no means did the 28-year-old have an awful game, but his choice of pass was often safe and as a result England lacked impetus and drive in the second-half, until the additions of Marcus Rashford and Ruben Loftus-Cheek added a spark in the final third.

Gareth Southgate will often opt for control in central midfield against tougher opposition – with Belgium on the horizon – but against the likes of Tunisia and Panama, the side can afford to take more risks and be more inventive, and the decision to leave Wilshere at home is already being questioned after just one game.

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