Liverpool won again in the fourth week of the English Premier League. They defeated Burnley 3-0 with an own goal by Chris Wood in the 33rd minute, then a Sadio Mane shot in the 37th minute, and a shot from outside the penalty box Roberto Firmino in the 80th minute. These results in addition to establishing Liverpool at the top of the standings with 12 perfect points from 4 matches, also set a new club record from Merseyside with 13 consecutive wins in the English Premier League.
There is nothing bad about this result. Liverpool are in top form and have a great chance to end the English Premier League title that they have been waiting for for over 20 years. However, in the 82nd minute, something happened that raised questions and speculation from many parties.
In a 3-0 lead, Liverpool did not stop their attacks. A combination game through Liverpool’s right wing made Roberto Firmino find space in the Burnley defense area. The Brazilian striker who had just scored the fiftieth goal in the English Premier League continued the ball to Mohamed Salah Salah who ran into the penalty box. Burnley’s defense leaves only 2 defenders and one goalkeeper. Meanwhile, another Liverpool striker, Sadio Mane, was free standing in the penalty box waiting for the ball from Mohamed Salah.
Liverpool have a great chance to score a fourth goal if Mohamed Salah unleashed a free pass to Sadio Mane. However, the Egyptian striker chose to take individual action. He did manage to get past a Burnley player, but Erik Pieters who ran from behind Mohamed Salah managed to sweep the ball out of the dangerous area.
Klopp then made two players at a time. Divock Origi came on for Sadio Mane, and Xherdan Shaqiri came on for Roberto Firmino. And what happened after that made Liverpool fans worried about the internal conditions of their favorite club, especially the front-line trio that they were very proud of. Sadio Mane looked angry on the Liverpool bench. His body gesture showed that he protested about Mohamed’s action on the opportunity that had occurred a minute earlier. Several players and staff then tried to calm Mane, one of whom was James Milner who moved from his seat to move next to Mane while embracing him.
After the game was over, Mane reportedly refused to be interviewed and only passed through the media room using his headset. He refused subtly as some reporters tried to ask him a few questions and proceeded to leave the stadium. This certainly makes many parties speculate whether there is an harmonious relationship between Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah?
Both are indeed a goal machine for Liverpool in the last two seasons. Even last season, Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah (also with Arsenal player Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang) shared their achievements as the top scorer of the English Premier League with 22 goals. It might not be easy to have two goal-hungry players in one team. And this is what makes people think there has been an unhealthy competition between Mane and Salah.
This is not the first time the issue of competition between Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah has arisen. Since the arrival of Mohamed Salah, Mane’s position has been displaced. He must be willing to move to the left wing because the previous position on the right wing was filled by Mohamed Salah. Salah also gets more attention from fans and media than Mane, even though after the departure of Coutinho, Mane should be the main star of Liverpool if there’s no Salah. But Mane did not seem to mind this, he remained consistently playing well with Liverpool.
The Liverpool striker trio then transformed into one of the scariest trios in Europe. Since the summer of 2017, when Mohamed Salah moved from AS Roma to Liverpool, the trio of Liverpool attackers recorded remarkable achievements. In total they scored 169 goals with 70 of them from Mohamed Salah, 50 and Sadio Mane, and 45 from Roberto Firmino. In that time frame, according to Opta data in an article on The Athletic website written by James Pearce, the wrong game combination of passing the Firmino is the most. Followed by a combination of Firmino passing to Salah. Meanwhile, the operand combination between Salah to Mane and vice versa is the lowest of the three player combinations.
This is certainly a natural thing because the position of Mane and Salah on the right and left wing makes them less likely to make a combination than the two with Firmino. In addition, if we go back to seeing Liverpool play a lot through the right side with Trent Alexander-Arnold as a regulator of attacks, it is natural that the combination of Salah with Firmino is the most. This figure in no way describes Mane or Salah’s selfishness.
Interestingly, although they rarely give each other operands, the combination between the two is precisely the most in creating opportunities. A total of 68 times the combination of the two fruitful opportunities for Liverpool both operands from Mane to Salah and vice versa. More than one chance from the combination of Salah and Firmino who succeeded in creating 67 chances. This shows that while passing the ball less often, the combination between Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane almost always occurs in dangerous areas so often creates opportunities for Liverpool. One of them happened at the beginning of the first half against Burnley yesterday when Mane passed a hard kick from Mohamed Salah who unfortunately still hit the crossbar.
If anyone says that Mohamed Salah is a selfish player it can also be disproved by his statistical record. Among the trio of Liverpool attackers, Salah is the player who scored the most assists and created chances. Salah is also the player who has released the most successful passes in the final third of the field compared to Firmino and Mane. That’s why it’s not right if we say Salah as a selfish player.
If you go back to the case that happened in the 82nd minute match against Burnley last weekend, Salah really should pass to Mane.
Jamie Carragher said that Salah’s decision to make individual axes in that position was not right. Carragher even added that Salah often looks desperate if he hasn’t scored until the 60th minute. He became more often fired in the last 30 minutes.
But Mane also never made a similar mistake. He has carried out individual actions and failed to produce goals when he had the option to pass on to his partner who was more likely to score. This is certainly common in a football match.
Pandit ESPN, who was also part of the Liverpool team in 1990 when Liverpool last won the English League title, Steve Nicol, actually considered Mane’s response to the match against Burnley to be positive. “I think what we see shows how Liverpool are very good, and why Firmino, Mane and Salah are very good. They have the will and determination to win. Even though they are in a 3-0 lead, they are not easily satisfied, they are hungry for goals and they are always hungry for that. “
Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson also said that there was no problem between Salah and Mane. He said that Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah were fine. They were joking again when they entered the dressing room. Henderson actually sees this as a positive thing. “I like this, and I think we really need it. Sadio is fine, he’s a good friend. We just often motivate each other, and I think that’s important. We all want to continue to be better. We want to continue to grow. We are very close and we will be able to get through it all, “Henderson said with a smile.
The manager, Jurgen Klopp, also added that there was nothing to worry about in his squad. “Everyone must stay calm now. Sadio is completely fine, everything’s fine. You still like each other, “said the German manager, laughing at Turf Moor after the match.
In conditions at the top of the standings and the hopes of many Liverpool fans who already really miss the title, the pressure on the players is certainly greater. A small spark of this kind of dispute can be a positive thing so that Liverpool will not fall asleep with the situation and slip due to his own negligence. From here it is just how Jurgen Klopp brought his squad to keep up the healthy competition that kept each Liverpool squad motivated to grow every day.