Saido Mane registered his first goal for Southampton FC against Swansea in the Premier League over the weekend, this was after scoring a brace against MK Does in the League Cup, Mane is having a fantastic start to the season,and not just in the Premier League, but also in Europe. The fleet footed player is not new to making headlines,only last season,against Aston Villa, he needed (2:56) minutes to have his name in the record books as the player with the fastest hattrick. He led as his team tormented Tim Sherwood’s men.
Yet,it is his displays,like last week’s against Manchester United,and against Swansea that continues to underline just how much of a handful Mane is to opposition team defenders. Marcus Rojo had a horrid afternoon as Mane turned tormentor in chief and was rewarded with a 90 minute assist which Pele slotted to make him the top assist provider(3) for his club,not to mention that the opening goal too was a rebound after de Gea had blocked his goal bound shot. Blessed with pace which he effectively uses to exploit spaces between the defence and midfield,especially against teams that choose to play a high defensive lines.
Koeman’s team lost Morgan Schneiderlin to Manchester United,alongside Victor Wanyama they not only acted as a cushion to their defenders but were also very instrumental in helping Saints control games through patient build up play,yet all this seems to have changed as was witnessed against United. Playing a more defensive 4-5-1 as opposed to an attack minded 4-2-3-1. This is always expected whenever smaller teams play the bigger,top 4/5 teams,they prefer to be less adventurous and hope to catch them on the counter. With Gradziano Pelle upfront receiving long balls and holding play for Tadic and company to join in the attack. It was Mane who offered a plan B,attacking and providing width from the right wing,providing aerial balls into the penalty box for Pelle.
Comparing him to some of the wide players in the PL so far,clearly shows how on form he is ,although Hazard and Alexis operate on the left and prefer drifting in to either shoot or get a one two, Mane stretches the pitch and produces excellent crosses which Pelle is currently enjoying by looking at his goals tally. Looking at the seasoned and more experienced Navas it is clear who is the better player on the right, Navas is normally guilty of many poor final balls as opposed to Mane.
This weekend against Chelsea will be an interesting game,his pace will surely be a thorn to the opponents back line. How he alongside Tadic exploit the space between Matic and the back four will be interesting. Tadic and Pelle might provide the physicality against Zouma and Cahill or Terry,but surely it is Mane’s pace that could surely unlock the Chelsea defence as has been evidenced by Monterro against Ivanovic. If Mourinho goes with a high defensive line,then he will surely have to contend with the fact that Koeman will release the pacy and direct Mane to exploit that high defense line. This surely promises to be a good game and a battle.
If he continues like he started, Mane is surely going to have one very decent season, one can only hope he stays fit and gets the mentions he truly deserves instead of wondering why other players in his position have dipped in form,let us recognize his early exploits.