Mane flying as Liverpool looks to go second in Premier League
LIVERPOOL – Agence France-Presse
Sadio Mane says his Champions League hat-trick has given him a confidence boost as Liverpool seeks to climb to second in the Premier League -- at least temporarily -- by beating West Ham at Anfield on Feb. 24.
Mane is just one goal short of matching his total for the whole of the last campaign after scoring three times against Porto in the first leg of Liverpool’s last-16 tie last week.
“It’s always important, especially for a striker, to score,” said Mane. “It gives you confidence and I am feeling confident. Now I am looking forward to continuing to give my best, as I have done all of the time even when I have not been at my best.”
The Senegal forward, 25, will likely line up alongside Roberto Firmino after the Brazilian learned he would face no disciplinary action over an altercation with Everton defender Mason Holgate during an FA Cup third-round tie last month.
Jürgen Klopp’s side has struck 14 times in its past five matches, making light of the loss of Philippe Coutinho’s in the January transfer window.
Despite his heroics in Portugal, Mane has been the least prolific of Liverpool’s current front three, with 12 goals to his name this season compared with 21 for Firmino and 30 for the outstanding Mohamed Salah.
The good news for Klopp is that his team has discovered a little more defensive solidity recently, boosted by the arrival of Virgil van Dijk, with the clean sheet against Porto coming three days after a 2-0 Premier League win at Southampton.
Klopp’s side starts the weekend sitting third in the table, having lost once in 18 Premier League matches, and victory would carry it above Manchester United, which is not in action until Feb. 25, when it hosts Chelsea.
Both Liverpool and West Ham had last weekend off, having been knocked out of the FA Cup, and so should be fresh, with Klopp using the break to take his players to Marbella for a warm-weather training camp.
The only injury absence is defender Nathaniel Clyne, who is recovering from a back problem.