Liverpool defender Joe Gomez has warned his side’s opponents that Sadio Mane’s return to fitness could provide a psychological blow in helping the Reds clinch the Premier League title.
Senegal international Mane came off the bench to deliver a fine winning goal as Jurgen Klopp’s champions-elect ground past Norwich 1-0 in testing conditions at Carrow Road.
The Reds notched their 17th successive top-flight victory in Norfolk, fending off Storm Dennis as much as the spirited Canaries.
Mane overcame a minor knock to return to action and could now start Tuesday’s Champions League trip to Atletico Madrid, with defender Gomez singing the dangerous striker’s returning impact.
“What a player he is; he gives you a boost of confidence when he’s coming on and psychologically for another team it’s not nice,” Gomez told the club’s official website.
“He’s massive and he’s popped up for us in so many moments this year and done it yet again.
“All the different ways and different forms of goals, it shows his quality and we were lucky to have him come off the bench but obviously that was due to his injury.”
Liverpool are racing towards a first top-flight title since 1990, while the Reds remain in the hunt to retain their Champions League crown and also chasing FA Cup glory.
With the World Club Cup already in the bag, Klopp‘s side could yet sweep all before them and Gomez admits now is the time to capitalise on the most robust of ground work.
“We’ve had the winter break and now it’s down the home stretch,” Gomez said. “We know how important this run of games is as it’s an intense period of the season and it’s crunch time really.
“It’s the most important part and you just build the foundation from the start of the season to this period here. We are blessed to have the squad that we do and everyone will have to play their part to get us over the line.
“The weather was difficult, obviously the wind isn’t pleasant when jumping for balls in the air and so on, but both teams had the same thing. They had it in that direction in the first half and we had it in different ways in the second.
“It’s just part and parcel. Obviously it’s not comfortable at times and you can misjudge things but it’s part of the game and we both had to deal with it.”
Liverpool need five wins from their remaining 12 games to win the club’s first league title in 30 years, with Manchester City playing their game in hand against West Ham on Wednesday.