Over the last couple of seasons, Liverpool have been known for their attacking flair. Having scored a whopping 84 league goals last season, the emergence of Roberto Firmino, Sadio Mane and Mohammed Salah immediately made Liverpool far more of a threat in the Premier League.
However, things haven’t quite been as simple in recent weeks. Liverpool are top of the league, of course, and in the context of the season, they’ve been tremendous. That said, their attack has faltered somewhat, with the trio of Roberto Firmino, Sadio Mane and Mo Salah not able to have the same impact thus far. Mo Salah has bagged just 1 goal in his last 6 games, which tells the story perfectly.
Klopp may have, however, found another option to rely on as a result of the Reds’ win over Watford. Sky Sports pundit James Walker-Roberts has been discussing the use of Sadio Mane as a number 9 in the game, which was done to tremendous effect.
He wrote: ‘Despite his heroics against Everton earlier in the season, Origi is unlikely to keep his place if Firmino is available to return in the Merseyside derby on Sunday. However, Mane’s display in a central role comes at an intriguing time for Liverpool.’
He continued: ‘With questions over the front three – Jamie Carragher said on Sunday that they “haven’t quite exploded this season” – might Klopp be tempted to mix things up more over the next month? He has options at his disposal, and this display might encourage him to utilise them more often.’
Of course, this comes in the context of Mane’s two goals against Watford – both of which came by way of his impressive work through the middle.
Generally speaking, he’s been solely a winger during his time at Anfield. His attributes are well suited to that role, with his pace and crossing combining brilliantly to give the Reds an option down the wing.
However, his positioning, energy and finishing all make him a viable option as a centre-forward, too, and that is an interesting prospect.
Now, of course, Roberto Firmino will continue to be Liverpool’s first choice forward, as he should, with Salah and Mane surrounding him. It’s important not to overstate Liverpool’s attacking problems as the aforementioned trio has bagged 40 league goals between them this season. However, if things don’t go well going forward for the Reds – as they sometimes haven’t in recent weeks – Mane is a very interesting choice to rely on towards the end of the game.
Versatility is crucial, and Klopp is proving that his tactics are adaptable.