With Liverpool producing a remarkable performance to see off the challenge of Arsenal, their victory came from a deadly attack with Roberto Firmino, Philippe Coutinho and Adam Lallana all playing their part, but it was Sadio Mane who walked away with the man of the match award after a memorable display.
Nacho Monreal most likely woke up on Sunday morning still having nightmares of the Senegal international bursting past him time and time again with his pace and drive leaving him for dead on almost every occasion.
Only Simon Mignolet had fewer touches than Mane’s 50, but he certainly made them count. Mane made two key passes to set up his teammates, including a well weighted assist to set up Roberto Firmino to set up the scoring after an inch perfect cross between the legs of Philippe Coutinho left the Arsenal defence bamboozled.
His movement also proved deadly as the Arsenal backline failed to handle the runs of the front three as they interchanged and dragged Laurent Koscielny and Shkodran Mustafi all over the place.
He also scored a crucial goal when Roberto Firmino cut the ball back to him to smash into the top corner from the edge of the box just before half time. That goal came at a pivotal moment in the game, with the Gunners much improved after half-time, with Mane’s goal looking likely to be the winner until Georgino Wijnaldum made sure in injury time.
Vitally, in the second half Mane recognised the changes that he had to make to his performance with Alexis Sanchez being introduced. With Nathaniel Clyne pinned back, Mane was aware enough to ensure that he too tracked back to add an extra layer of protection for the team’s fragile defence to help avoid the kind of collapse that has cost them so dearly numerous times in the last two months and this season in general.
Mane’s best performance since returning from the African Cup of Nations, it could be a promising sign of things to come with Liverpool now looking to secure their place in the top four having knocked Arsenal down to fifth, but such displays will have to be more consistent if that is to happen.
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