Although Liverpool finished the season mid table in 8th place, it was by no means a failure of a season. Reaching the finals of the League Cup and the Europa League were the heights of the season and under the management of Jurgen Klopp, they have high hopes of winning a trophy in the seasons to come. It was a season that started poorly, including a 3-1 defeat to rivals United at Old Trafford and the first victory for West Ham at Anfield since 1964. The sacking of Brendon Rodgers just one hour after a 1-1 draw in the 225th Merseyside Derby made way for the arrival of the charismatic Jurgen Klopp. With Liverpool struggling in 10th place after 8 games, he had it all to do. Having to work with Rodgers’ team that he inherited, he injected energy and passion and did very well to lead them to two finals during the course of the season.
One of Liverpool’s major problems has been the inconsistency of their players. The likes of Coutinho have shown flashes of brilliance but haven’t been able to play with the same level of intensity throughout the season. Injuries to Daniel Sturridge, Jordan Henderson, and Danny Ings didn’t help either. Liverpool never really coped with the loss of Suarez failing to replace him and so the loss of Sterling seemed to be another big blow. Klopp will certainly be looking to add some quality to his squad and it’s possible that Andros Townsend and Sadio Mane might be on the list.
Townsend played significantly less matches than Mane this season due to falling out of favour at Tottenham before eventually signing for Newcastle in January. Despite the fact that Mane made triple the amount of appearances than Townsend this season, they both still averaged 0.3 goals per game in the League. Playing as attacking midfielders, it means you often have to take on defenders, and both of them averaged 2.1 successful dribbles per game in the League. Of course, Townsend played out wide while Mane played more centrally. A major part of an attacking midfielder’s job is to make things happen around the box and provide key passes. Townsend leads on that front making 1.6 key passes per game while Mane had 1.1 per game in the League.
On the downside, creative players are often very frustrating when they are failing to make an impact and regularly losing the ball. While Townsend was dispossessed 1.9 times per game this season, Mane was slightly better with 1.6. Although both players like to cut in from outside and dribble, Townsend loves shooting from distance and it is definitely one of his strengths. While both are weak in the air, their delivery certainly makes up for it. A crucial aspect that most managers look at is whether their wide players track back and defend. It’s something even the likes of Eden Hazard and Mesut Ozil had problems with. Andros Townsend does not shy away from a tackle and plays hard however, Mane often commits many fouls. This shows in their disciplinary record with Mane getting 4 yellow cards and 2 red cards over the course of the season, and Townsend not even picking up a booking. Townsend also won 2.1 tackles per game in the League whereas Mane only won 1.5.
Even though both players are neck and neck in terms of statistics, Townsend edges out Mane in my opinion and would be a better fit for Liverpool where Klopp wants his players to play with a high intensity throughout the game.