Roberto Firmino is an elegant forward. Perhaps one of the most skilful and aesthetically pleasing players to watch in the Premier League. Some of the flicks, tricks and general things he does during a game epitomise the beautiful game. Yet some people question whether the Brazilian is as fundamental to this Liverpool side as suggested. Is he having a below-par season in the Reds’ imminent title triumph?
The striker hasn’t had a bad season as such on paper. With the basic face value stats, 8 goals and 7 assists in 29 Premier League games isn’t an awful season. 10 goals in all competitions. In fact with 9 games to go, he can surpass last season’s tally of 12 goals in the top-flight. Of course anyone who watches football knows there’s more to a game than goals and assists. However, in 2019/20, there are a few concerning stats surrounding the 28 year old:
7 Champions League games without scoring, no goals at Anfield this season, 19 big chances missed in the Premier League. When you look at it like that, it doesn’t make good reading for Firmino. Even if goals aren’t everything, surely he’s got to be putting more of them away? Salah and Mane have 30 Premier League goals between them this season and comparatively, the former Hoffenheim striker has under-performed. Bearing in mind, this is during the so-called ‘prime years’ of the player.
Roberto Firmino – Style of Play
Now before you tear into me Liverpool fans, I get it. He’s not just a goal scorer. In fact quite often, I see the phrase ‘defensive striker’ being banded about on Twitter. Sometimes to mock the obvious lack of goals for him. But also because there is a truth element to it.
Firmino’s off the ball work and defensive output continues to be underrated. The forward is averaging 1 tackle per game in the league and 1.9 per game in the Champions League this season. Figures that you don’t expect from your usual striker. Like the rest of the players Klopp’s system, he works tirelessly and puts in 110% every game. No doubt about it.
At 5ft 11, he’s relatively strong for quite a lean guy and able to hold up the ball well enough. Although the Copa America winner isn’t the quickest either, his intelligent movement means that pace isn’t an issue for making effective runs into great positions, for a shot or setting up a teammate.
Creativity wise too, Firmino hasn’t regressed from last season. Already laying on the joint best number of assists he’s managed since arriving on the red of Merseyside, the Brazilian international continues to be an effective play maker for Klopp. 1.3 key passes per game in the Premier League highlights that. Moreover, when you watch him play, the 28 year old’s link up play and intelligence is often on show. The movement off the ball to create space for Mane and Salah helps facilitate their attacking output.
Is he having a sub-par season?
As a false 9, Roberto Firmino does in fact carry out his role well. Often he has to sacrifice himself to help the players around him get in goal scoring positions. A selfless trait which for the most part has worked out well for Liverpool. But, despite his qualities, which perhaps continue to be underrated, this has been a below par season for the Brazilian.
“Firmino is the most complete striker in the league.”Thierry Henry on Roberto Firmino
There have been dozens of chances, clear cut chances, which the Figueirense youth product has not put away. As much as he is this ‘defensive striker’ and player that offers much more to the team than goals, this poor finishing is worrying. When you’re having 3 shots per game, you expect more than 8 Premier League goals. Perhaps Timo Werner to Liverpool in the summer could provide the competition Firmino needs to improve his goal scoring.
Because as of current, although Liverpool are doing brilliantly, you expect more from a player with the quality of their Brazilian international. If you’re the most complete striker in the league, you’ve got to be putting the ball in the back of the net more often than not.
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