Opinion

LFC Season Review – Our Attack: The best FOARward line in Europe?

With a fun yet detailed review of our defense and Midfield wrapped up, our writers decided it’s now time to get to the section you’ve all been waiting for – the attack. If you haven’t yet had a chance to look at our at Part 1 and Part 2, simply follow the hyperlink.

Undoubtedly, the trio in the front were the driving force of this Liverpool unit last season. Plundering a total of 57 goals and 24 assists between the three of them in the Premier League alone – Mane, Salah and Firmino are one of the most feared attacking trio’s not just in the league, but as they ably demonstrated, in Europe as well. The bench though felt light at times with only a young Solanke and recovering Ings supporting the fabulous trio.

Let’s go ahead and take a look at how our attacking players fared the past season.

 

Opinion by: Manny @ mannyyylfc

Sadio Mane:

Oh Mane Mane, what can I say about this man. Humble, down to earth & a simple guy off the pitch, he lights it on fire when on it. A man who loves his fans, is an enjoyable character in the dressing room & is full of passion for his football club. Sadio Mane.

We all know from last season what a signing Sadio has been. But what we didn’t know was that Sadio Mane is not just a speedy winger playing on the sides. Having sacrificed his Right sided position to the Egyptian God AND receiving the burden of the departed Coutinwho, Mane portrayed his hidden asset – versatility. He can also create, track back and twist and turn his defenders centrally.

Statistically, Mane has had a hell of a season with 19 goals/8 assists as compared to last season, with 13 goals /5 assists. Yet, there are a group of our fans who believe we need a better winger. I personally believe Mane is the best winger in the Premier League and, aged just 26, he will get better. There were times where the lack of confidence got to him and his game drifted. There are times where he made wrong decisions in the final 3rd and his touch let him down. However, he showed that once he overcomes these issues, he only gets better and better. Majestic performances in the Champions League nights proved that on many occasions.

The fact that Salah had his kind of season, taking the limelight off Sadio, didn’t seem to bother Mane at all, as he even tried to give Salah another open goal in the final game against Brighton. Looking at how our counter attack was played throughout this season, it was easy to see just how good Mane was in our build up. Every time Mane wasn’t available, we lacked his unpredictability, trickery and speed that can frighten any fullback in the league.

Whoever we sign this summer will only be the backup to Sadio Mane, he is that good. He’s a Klopp-type player, an aggressive winger who loves isolating defenders; a hard worker who tracks back all the time and a hell of a counter attacking player. In addition to that, he is the only one among the front 3 who is very good with both feet!

Rating: 9/10

 

 

Opinion by: Maya @ mayamahadevan

Mohamed Salah:

The winger arrived from Roma last summer on the back of a highly successful stint in Italy, but no one expected him to scorch the statistical tables during his first season on Merseyside. His arrival was met with scepticisim from Pundits and rivals alike, with his failure to adapt to the league with Chelsea being a broom being brandished as a sign of his impending failure. Salah however, was determined than ever before and simply had other plans.

Salah provided pace, guile and creativity to the Reds side from the right – with Mane to match on the left – and scored at a remarkable rate. He also dovetailed spectacularly with Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino in the forefront of the Reds attack to have a stellar debut season in terms of assists, chances created and overall performances.

Salah broke the record for most goals scored in a 38-game Premier League season, also winning the Golden Boot for 2017/18 with 32 goals (4 ahead of second-placed Harry Kane). That he missed the most number of clear-cut chances (as per Opta) speaks more of his ability to fashion those at will and out of nothing, than of profligacy. His knack to be at the right place at the right time too was unmatched by any other reds player. A 20+ goal striker is missing from the attack? Well here is.

At Kyiv, the Reds lost him to an injury less than half an hour into the Champions League final; Dejan Lovren and Gini Wijnaldum later admitted that the Egyptian’s withdrawal caused an adverse impact – both mentally as well as in terms of momentum.

Such has been his form that his transfer fee of £34m began to look like a bargain midway through the season. He has forced pundits and fans alike to look through the dictionary for those seldom used words of praise as the usual has simply been rendered not good enough! I would have probably given him 11/10 if Liverpool had clinched the Champions League, but for now, will stick to full marks.

Rating: 10/10

 

 

Roberto Firmino:

The Reds number 9 is anything but what his shirt number indicates. As Jurgen Klopp rightly said, Firmino is not a traditional striker or a number 10 or a defender – he is perfect a mix of all of these, and in the right amounts.

The sheer consistency of the Brazilian’s performances across games and his endurance levels – most number of minutes under the belt across competitions in 2017/18 – can be the envy of most professional players. He has been a definite 7-8/10 or over in a majority of games played and this is owing to not only his strength in attack, but also diligence and efficiency defensively along with spatial awareness and creativity.

With 26 goals and 16 assists across competitions, Firmino has had the best season of his professional career so far. Firmino’s selflessness – the number of occasions wherein he creates chances for others to score or makes a crucial pass is countless. His ability to draw away defenders by going deeper, allowing for our wingers to cut-in, works perfectly with the system in place. All of this, combined with his vision and physicality, have made him the fulcrum for Klopp’s Liverpool.

His eye for goal, ability to score on crucial occasions as well create opportunities make him the ideal ‘nine-and-a-half’ in Klopp’s system. I have probably been harsh here in not giving ‘Bobby’ full marks for a near-perfect season but I believe he is capable of more – the better the player, the higher the ceiling.

Rating: 9/10

 

 

Opinion by:  Koushik @ Koushik2497

Dominic Solanke:

Another Chelsea reject ending up at Liverpool? Surely not right? Dominic Solanke signed for the Reds before the U-20 World cup where his inspired performances lead England to a World Cup glory. Solanke won the Tournament’s Golden Ball award which is awarded to the best player of the tournament. Initially integrated into the academy, Solanke quickly came through the ranks and was on the bench for the first PL game against Watford. The youngster was quick to establish himself in the bench and as an option over Sturridge and Divock Origi. Klopp definitely saw something in him which made him take a bold decision of sending away Origi and Sturridge on loan.

Solanke’s positioning has been something to closely watch as the 20 year old shows a lot of maturity for his age. He has put in good performances this season and the goal against Brighton was much overdue for Dom as that was his first ever goal for the Reds.

Due to no fault of his own, was relied upon more than he should have been, to come off the bench and make an impact, due to the lack of attacking reinforcements on the bench. With a stronger bench, more capable of making an impact, perhaps there will be scope next season to give him minutes when not under extreme pressure to perform. Klopp may also opt to send him out on loan and basis his performance this season, there will surely be a lot of suitors. It is evident the kid is talented and just needs it to be nurtured with the right amount of time and patience. The rating might seem harsh but I feel it is right considering he was the only back-up on the bench (Ings can’t much be considered) and had little impact (once again, no fault of his own).

Rating: 5/10

 

 

Opinion by:  Aakarsh @ aakarsh_ab

Danny Ings:

The unluckiest of the players to dawn a Liverpool shirt recently, Ings missed consecutive league seasons for Liverpool – an ACL and a knee injury saw him miss 500 days of action and 85 games for the club. He returned to first team action at the start of the season and has been an outsider in the first team for Jurgen Klopp ever since.

He was used as a sub for a number of games, including a 28-min cameo against FC Porto at Anfield after he picked up an assist late in the game in the first leg in Portugal. The increasing number of games meant that he was given his first league start in more than two years in the Merseyside derby at Goodison Park, which ended in a 0-0 draw.  Just a couple of weeks later, in just his second start for Liverpool, Ings opened the scoring for The Reds on their trip to Hawthorns where he got more than an hour of football. He also started against Stoke City and has been a regular in the squad ever since.

His busy style of play, his energy on the field and the many times he came close to scoring in the 320 minutes that he got for Liverpool on the field this season, showed that he could yet become a capable backup for The Reds. One area that he does lack is pace, which may be likely because of the injuries he’s sustained. Considering Liverpool look to play quick counters, it may be an issue with his play. It was heartening to see the fans stand firmly behind him and one can hope he takes heart from the fan support.

At 25, one can hope his injuries are behind him and that he will only improve going forward. It is likely that his eagerness and work-rate may have convinced Klopp to give him another go and he is therefore expected to be an important part of the squad next season.

Rating: 6/10

 

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