Liverpool have had an almost perfect start to the season, they are undefeated in the Premier League and put on an impressive display to defeat Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League. At present they are top of the Premier League, two points clear of Manchester City and Chelsea, and are setting a number of club records.
Over the last year a lot has been said about the team’s attacking prowess. Last season saw Mohammad Salah have a fantastic opening season with the club, and despite a slower start this time around, he is widely expected to score heavily over the coming month. However, this season has seen another of Liverpool’s players come to the fore, Salah’s fellow winger on the opposite side, Sadio Mané.
Many people have always considered Mané to be a highly skilled player, but often his performances were overshadowed by Salah’s outstanding performances. Last season Salah was extremely impressive, scoring a total of 32 goals. However, far less talked about was the fact that Mané matched his tally in the Champions League and scored 10.
There is bound to be some healthy competition between the teammates over the rest of the season, and it could help propel Liverpool to new heights. Here we will take a look at how each player has performed since the start of this season.
Which Player is the Better Attacker?
Both Mané and Salah began the new season with goals. Salah hit one home while Mané scored two. In the following game Mané added another to his tally while Salah failed to score. In the Premier League players are expected to perform to the same high standard every week, and Salah’s failure to score led to speculation that Mané was taking over Salah’s job as top scorer.
Since then Salah has been steadily closing the gap, he has three goals to his name while Mané is just ahead with 4 (it is also worth noting that Firmino is level with Salah on 3). Looking more at the statistics, both players have had ten shots on target so far this season, unless you include the Champions League, in which case Mané has one more. However, Salah is still miles ahead of Mané in terms of attempts; he has 27 to Mané’s 19.
Most of Salah’s attempts to score this season have been from outside the box. He has been blocked far more effectively than his teammate. This shows that following last season, defenders are paying far more attention to Salah than the other Liverpool attackers. In fact, the extra attention being paid to Salah may be giving Mané more opportunities to find the space he needs in attacking areas, and that is why most of his attempts have been from inside the box.
The two players have had almost equal aerial wins of the ball, 7 by Salah and 5 by Mané, but this is not a part of their game. Their strength lines in their dribbling runs and ability to weave in and out of players. Salah clearly excels in this and he has 30% more successful dribbles than his teammate. However, he has been losing the ball far more often, he has lost it 18 times in the Premier League, compared to Mané’s 9.
— Sadio Mané (@10SadioMane) July 20, 2018
Overall, when it comes to their attacking prowess, at present it is difficult to choose between the two players. While Mané is getting closer to goal and losing the ball less, Salah is being given a far tougher time by defenders. Salah also takes more risks than Mané, and ultimately his efforts are likely to start paying off far more.
Which Player is More Creative?
There is really very little to discuss here. Salah easily comes out on top of Mané in terms of creativity. So far Salah has had 18 key passes in total and there have been just 10 from Mané. A key pass is one that directly or indirectly leads to a goal or to a scoring opportunity. Furthermore, Salah has 2 assists to his name in the Premier League while Mané has none.
While Mané has a higher number of accurate passes, the majority of them have been non-incisive possession based passes. In contrast to this, Salah is always looking for a way through the opposition’s defence and this arguably makes his passes more important.
Which Player is Better for Fantasy Leagues?
If you are a Fantasy Premier League player then you will be paying close attention to both players’ statistics and on-pitch performances.
In the official Fantasy Premier League Salah began the season as a considerably more expensive player than Mané, he was at £13 and Mané was at £9.50. However, Mané then went on to bring in far more points for players as he scored more than Salah on more than one occasion. At present Mané is on 44 points while Salah is on 37.
What will be interesting to fantasy league players is that Mané currently has 8 bonus points while Salah has zero. This suggests that the game panel believes that Mané has had better in-game performances so far.
Because of this Mané has been growing considerably in ownership as well as in price. Mané is currently at £10 while Salah’s price has dropped to £12.90 and he is no longer the most selected player in the game (however, he is still more selected than Mané at 42.7% to Mané’s 42.3%).
While it is not really fair to judge the two players based upon a game, considering how many players the Fantasy Premier League has, it is a good way to judge the way players are perceived at the moment, and it strongly suggests that Mané is the favoured player. On the other hand, Salah has still provided good returns on a regular basis and all he is lacking is a good game week to turn things in his favour.
How is Perception Affecting Judgment?
Last season Mohammed Salah set incredibly high standards for himself and it was always going to be tough for him to match them this season. He went just three matches without scoring but this was considered a goal drought for the player. Furthermore, if he is anything other than excellent in a game he comes in for heavy criticism.
For example, consider the team’s win over PSG in the Champions League. Firmino won the game and that way deflected a lot of attention away from Salah. Had the game ended in a draw then Salah, who was fairly underwhelming in that match, would probably have come in for far more criticism.
Mané is free of this kind of pressure. He can enjoy playing without having to worry too much about fan and media reaction. For example, the fact that Mané has also gone three games without scoring has not been widely commented on. Just as he has perhaps not received enough praise for his efforts so far, his mistakes have also been overlooked. Mané had a fantastic start to the season, but there is no guarantee that his current form will continue.
Which Player Looks Set to Have the Better Season?
It is still very early days in the season and it is hard to choose between the two players. Salah is clearly feeling the pressure and has not been at his best while Mané is thriving in the role of underrated player.
Salah is at a huge disadvantage this season, he will no longer be surprising opponents. The other teams are now fully aware of his capabilities and they will be doing everything they can to stop him. As a result, he is unlikely to score as heavily as last season. Furthermore, this will give other players in the team the chance to find more space and score, just as Mané has been doing. Mané has taken the role on of finishing most of Liverpool’s attacks while Salah has been showing far more creativity in his game.
The statistics suggest that Salah is a better player than Mané. He has consistent attacking presence and there is a very good chance that he will overtake Mané in the number of goals scored. Mané will have to extend his impressive performance throughout the rest of the season if he wants to be a serious challenge to Salah’s prowess, and this will not be easy.
It looks set to be a very exciting season for Liverpool fans and the team look to be improving all of the time. Who emerges as their star player will not be the main concern for many, but the competition upfront between Mané and Salah is certainly something that is worth keeping an eye on.
In the meantime, Manchester City are still favourites to win the league with odds of 7/10, while Liverpool are at 7/4. In the top goal scorer markets, Sergio Aguero is top with odds of 5/2, followed by Harry Kane at 7/2 and then Salah at 9/2, Mané is seventh favourite at 12/1.