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Talking Tactics

Wan-Bissaka has the tools to stop Mane

Adrian Clarke 17 Aug 2018
Aaron Wan-Bissaka

Adrian Clarke says the Crystal Palace winger-turned-defender can keep the Liverpool star quiet on Monday

Adrian Clarke looks at the tactical battles set to take place in Matchweek 2.

Crystal Palace v Liverpool

Right-back Aaron Wan-Bissaka continued his rise with a superb individual display at Fulham on the opening weekend.

The 20-year-old restricted highly-rated left-winger Ryan Sessegnon to just one key pass, one shot and zero successful dribbles.

He also strode forward to supply Wilfried Zaha with an assist. 

So on Monday night when Crystal Palace host Liverpool, Wan-Bissaka’s duel with another Matchweek 1 headline-maker looks set to be an intriguing one.

Mane’s movement

Liverpool’s excellent positional rotation in forward areas makes winger Sadio Mane an elusive opponent to mark.

While he is happy to keep his width for the majority of matches, Liverpool’s No 10 is an expert at bursting into central areas too.

Using that element of surprise, Mane popped up to score twice against West Ham United on the opening weekend from positions within the width of the goalposts.

Need for help

To contain the 26-year-old Senegal international, Wan-Bissaka must show great concentration and ensure he knows Mane’s whereabouts at all times. 

This will be no easy task as Liverpool attack at pace and interchange positions intelligently.

Wan-Bissaka will therefore rely on extra support from the players around him at Selhurst Park.

Left-back Andrew Robertson and new central midfielder Naby Keita both raided down Liverpool’s left with regular success last time out. They are sure to challenge his decision-making.

Those two players and Mane exchanged 76 passes between them in the 4-0 win at Anfield. That is 22 per cent of the total number of passes Crystal Palace made against Fulham.

A player for the big occasion

Roy Hodgson has unearthed a young full-back who is not fazed by marking big-name players.

Last season he handled Alexis Sanchez, Marcus Rashford, Dele Alli and Eden Hazard with minimum fuss, just as he did Sessegnon.

And while a razor-sharp Mane is sure to be a handful, Wan-Bissaka has the defensive instincts to win the battle.

As shown at Craven Cottage, Palace’s academy graduate is blossoming into an all-round defender.

And when in possession his first instinct is always to attack. Last weekend 20 of his 28 passes were aimed forward.

Wan-Bissaka's MW1 performance
  Total CRY rank*
Touches 69 1
Interceptions 4 1
Forward passes 20 1
Clearances 6 2
Tackles 4 2
Recoveries 7 2
Succ. dribbles 2 3

*Outfield players

This Wan-Bissaka v Mane head-to-head promises to be a fabulous match-up.

In a physical sense the Palace full-back has the tools to handle Mane, but the Senegal international's skill and experience will provide a serious test of his defensive credentials.

If Wan-Bissaka can dominate his more senior opponent, his stock will rise once again.

Also in this series 

Part 1: Arsenal can stop Jorginho with pressing
Part 2: Wingers will be central to hopes of Cardiff
Part 3: Brighton have their own Pogba in Bissouma

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