'The kind of game everyone wants to play in' is how Sadio Mane has described Sunday's showdown with Manchester City at Anfield – and he insists Liverpool go into the clash with the league leaders full of confidence.
The Reds take on Pep Guardiola’s high-flyers aiming to extend a 17-match unbeaten run in all competitions; though they will face a side who’ve won 20 of their 22 Premier League fixtures so far and drawn the other two.
Nevertheless, with home backing behind them, Mane has explained why Jürgen Klopp’s charges are fully focused on how they can inflict damage upon the division’s meanest defence.
He told Liverpoolfc.com: “I think everyone is excited for this kind of game because it’s the kind of game everyone loves to play for.
“It will not be easy because Manchester City are one of the best teams in the league, but we also have great qualities and a great team; we can beat anyone, not just in the league, but Europe too. It will be a tough game, but I’m very much looking forward to it.
“I know we can score against any defence in the world, so we will see on Sunday if we can do that against City.
“The confidence is here, everyone is enjoying playing and now we are just waiting for Sunday to show we have the confidence and we can win the game.”
If Liverpool are to become the first team to overturn City in the Premier League so far this season, home advantage could prove key, Mane believes.
The Reds are unbeaten at Anfield so far in 2017-18 and the Senegal forward feels the support inside the stadium can give them an edge over the Blues.
“I’m not so much interested in City’s position or City’s form; I’m much more interested – and what’s more important to me – is us,” Mane continued.
“We are playing at home, so we will have the ground behind us. We are on a good run, we’ve won many games, the confidence is here. We will try to play as a team and win the game.
“Not only in the last two home games [against Leicester City and Everton] – the fans play a big part in us winning all of the time. The ground is just amazing and they push us until the end. This is what they’ve done and I think they will do it again on Sunday and give us the motivation. They can play a big part.
“The confidence is back and it is very important for us to win games – it is why we are here. If we are doing it, it means we are in a good way. We will keep working hard until the end of the season.”
On a personal note, Mane began 2018 in fine style – smashing home a superb opener in the 2-1 win at Burnley on New Year’s Day.
The 25-year-old concedes his form hadn’t been at its usual high standards in the couple of weeks prior to that, but he’s aiming to kick on and add to the eight goals he’s bagged already this season in the coming fixtures.
“It was a difficult couple of weeks for me, but it is part of football,” Mane acknowledged. “I am a professional footballer and I know how it is. It is behind me. This goal gave me more confidence and so hopefully I can score more in the coming weeks.
“I am just trying to work hard in training all the time, give my best every single game and try and score or assist for my team.
“Eight goals is good but I know myself and I know what I can give for the team, so I am confident I will score more goals and help the team.”