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Wednesday, August 17

LFC:- How Sadio Mane Takes Liverpool's Attack to the Next Level

The downside of Liverpool constantly playing short in midfield was that the opposition could pack one area of the pitch, defend deep, and know that their full backs would never be thoroughly challenged by anyone except for occasionally the opposing full backs. Perhaps certain teams with more ambitions of beating and outplaying Liverpool would not set up like that, but definitely the more miserly and disciplined sides made it difficult for Liverpool, despite our good goal record overall. Sevilla’s defensive display in the Europa League final is a perfect illustration of how a top team might set up to defend Liverpool’s effective but two-dimensional attack last season.
However, with Sadio Mane, Liverpool have added a dimension that will take their attack onto another level. By having Mane alongside another striker, Liverpool will score more goals for three reasons. Firstly, against other teams who manage to retain possession well against Liverpool, we will be able to break  with longer balls out of defence into the space behind their defenders; we will transition faster and be a greater threat even from our own half. It will also have the knock on effect of forcing attacking full backs like Monreal to think twice about joining attack, knowing that Liverpool have pace out wide to exploit any space left over.
Secondly, against teams who defend deep against Liverpool, Mane’s insistence to play on the last shoulder of defenders, coupled with another striker who does the same, will mean that defenders are less willing to step up and intercept or tackle players, with the fear of the ball being nipped behind them to a Liverpool attacker. Thus, space is always available in front of pinned-back opposition defenders for the likes of Firmino or Lallana to operate in.
Thirdly, it will allow Liverpool to create overloads in wide areas, to use modern football coaching jargon, which is something that we have rarely done prior to Klopp. When there is only a single threat attacking wide threat on your side, a full-back can naturally tuck in closer to his centre-back, thus reducing space for strikers and making goals harder to score. With Sadio Mane and an overlapping Clyne, left backs may have to detach themselves from their defensive unit more due a threat further out wide, either leaving an ability to overload outside with an overlap (see: Clyne assist vs Arsenal), or, leaving a pocket of space for a striker or midfielder to move into in between the full back and centre back.
Mane’s impact on the Arsenal result and his impact on Liverpool’s prospects cannot be underestimated. People may have been despondent about the fee initially, but Mane could work out to be the perfect purchase to take Liverpool’s attack to the next level, because he offers an attacking dimension that Liverpool have been lacking. Whisper it, but the cogs of another great Liverpool attack are slowly starting to turn.


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