Arsenal star names Two star players responsible for European success of rivals

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Charlie Nicholas believes Virgil van Dijk and Sadio Mane are responsible for keeping Liverpool’s Premier League and Champions League hopes alive during a gruelling couple of weeks at Anfield.

Jurgen Klopp’s Reds were seven points clear of title rivals Manchester City at the start of January but have dropped a number of points since to slip to second in the Premier League.

On Wednesday evening, Liverpool booked their place in the quarter-finals of the Champions League with a 3-1 victory over Bundesliga giants Bayern Munich at the Allianz Arena.

Senegal forward Mane scored a brace in the last-16 tie to take his overall tally to ten goals in his last ten appearances.

And Gunners hero Nicholas says Mane – along with £75million defender Van Dijk – have held Liverpool together during a demanding spell for the club.

‘It was a fantastic result in Munich but it could come at a cost,’ Nicholas told Sky Sports.

‘Yes, you’re in the draw and you deserve to be there, but it wasn’t a good performance.

‘Bayern were terrible, Liverpool were just a shade better. Sadio Mane is the man, not Mohamed Salah or Roberto Firmino.

‘Virgil van Dijk and Mane are the two getting them through this situation and I’m not convinced with their midfield either.’

Liverpool face Fulham in the Premier League on Sunday, knowing victory will see them move back above City who will then have a game in hand. And Nicholas added:

‘I think Fulham are gone along with Huddersfield. There’s a bit of pride to be left, but I don’t know what Scott Parker can do to keep anything going.

‘I’m expecting Salah to get back on the scoresheet this weekend.

‘It eases the burden of the pressure [City not playing in the league this weekend] because they don’t look really nervous.

‘They do get agitated and frustrated, because when the front three are playing that well they need someone else to get them through.

‘It has been Jurgen Klopp who has been getting caught up in the pressure of the situation but good coaches can ease the burden.

‘I think it will be a fairly comfortable statement [by Liverpool] and it will be a statement of intent to say to Man City “we’re not going away”.’

On Friday, Liverpool were drawn to face Porto in the last-eight of the Champions League.

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