It was a great start of the season for Roberto Firmino as he managed to contribute a goal and an assist as Liverpool drew with Watford. The Reds will be disappointed with the point, but their incredible attack was on display for all to see. They will be one of the leading attacks again this season and the 25-year-old is a huge part of why it has been so successful under Jurgen Klopp. He has adjusted well to his new role as a centre forward and will take a lot of confidence from his display in Hertfordshire.
Firmino got the team’s second equaliser from the penalty spot. He never looked like missing when he was preparing to take it and he dispatched it confidently past the Heurelho Gomes. The Brazilian international is a good finisher, but that isn’t where his strengths lie. Since moving to this role, he has shown himself to be an intelligent player in the final third, as he regularly creates space for others to exploit. Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah are quick and excellent at timing their runs into dangerous positions. The movement of Firmino allows them to do the damage.
During the match at Vicarage Road, the 25-year-old also got the assist for Liverpool’s third. There will be much debate about whether he meant it or not, but he chipped the keeper and found Salah who tapped it into the net. Although the forward was probably going for goal, he put the ball into a threatening position and it led to a goal. He can’t be criticised for that.
The most important role that Firmino has to play is to bring others into the game and he did that on Saturday. He completed two key passes and was at the centre of everything that Liverpool did in the final third. The one disappointment was his passing, as he was wasteful with possession at times, displayed by his pass success rate of 63%. This is underwhelming for a player with his quality, but it was the first day of the season. If this becomes a consistent theme throughout the season, then it will be a big concern.
Saturday wasn’t only impressive due to his performance, but his mentality on the pitch. The uncertainty over the future of Philippe Coutinho could have made it difficult for the players. Firmino stepped up and showed himself to be an individual that his team-mates look to for inspiration, especially in attack. If his compatriot does leave, he has the potential to take his game to a new level.
This could be a breakout year for Firmino as there is the opportunity for him to establish himself as one of the league’s best players. Jurgen Klopp has made him a central part of the Liverpool team and the player has bought into the style. He works tirelessly for his manager when he presses the opposition and that was another element of his game that was impressive on Saturday. There is more to come from the Brazilian, but he started his own season well against Watford.
Jugen Klopp wanted him in 2016, Filip Kostic set for cut-price exit
The Serbian is set to be relegated with Hamburg.
In the summer of 2016 Liverpool were being linked with the signature of Serbian winger Filip Kostic. The Independent reported that Liverpool, and Tottenham Hotspur, had both watched the player, but had missed out. Hamburg instead signed Kostic from Bundesliga rivals Stuttgart for £12 million.
Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp would have known all about Kostic through his Bundesliga links and seeing him move elsewhere would have been frustrating. But, nearly two years on from Kostic’s Hamburg move, Liverpool may feel they dodged a bullet.
This summer, if Liverpool still wanted Kostic, they could get him cheap. The reason why? His performances have not lived up to his ability since the Hamburg move. Now, the Bundesliga side look doomed to relegation. The result will be a firesale in the summer, as HSV look to meet financial demands. Kostic, being one of the most valuable players and highest-earners at the club, will be available.
Based on his form for Hamburg, Liverpool would be unlikely to take an interest in the player.
But, rather than dodging a bullet, perhaps this situation could work out perfectly for Klopp and Liverpool.
Whilst Kostic has had a rough time at Hamburg, a lot of that is down to the running of the club.
For the Serbian national team the 25-year-old has still been in good form and Liverpool might just be able to bring Kostic in at a cut-price.
With the World Cup coming up this summer, Kostic will look to shine. A deal for Liverpool before then may prove to be a masterstroke.
Liverpool can look at Kostic in two ways. One, a transfer failure they should be happy with. Two, an opportunity for a bargain this summer.
Either way Klopp and Liverpool cannot really lose.
One goal in 15 and battling relegation, Divock Origi’s woeful loan spell
The Belgian has struggled in German football and may not have a future at Liverpool.
Liverpool are currently in fine form and Jurgen Klopp’s side are having a great season. They look set to finish in the Premier League top four yet again and will be hoping to finish second. They have also booked themselves a place in the Champions League final eight.
That sort of brilliance is not being mirrored by one of their players currently out on loan. Divock Origi was signed by Liverpool from Lille in 2014 after impressing in France and with the Belgian national team.
The bullish forward has shown glimpses of his talent for Liverpool. Last season he played 43 times for the club, scoring 11 goals. However, Liverpool decided he would be best off elsewhere and Origi was shipped out on loan in the summer to VfL Wolfsburg.
It has certainly not worked out for the Belgian.
The team have suffered this season. After losing more key players in the summer wolfsburg have spent most of the Bundesliga campaign battling relegation. They are currently on a winless run of six games. They are currently level on points with Mainz in the final relegation spot, which involves a play-off with the third best side from 2.Bundesliga.
These were not the hopes of Wolfsburg fans before the season and Origi has not been a shining light in their dreadful campaign.
The 22-year-old has scored just five goals in 26 games this season, with just one goal in his last 15 appearances.
Such form is making it increasingly unlikely that the Liverpool forward will be heading to the World Cup with Belgium this summer, which was one of the main reasons behind the move to Germany.
Liverpool have had high hopes for Origi. But at the moment it is looking like those expectations may have been misplaced.
Origi, who went nine games without a goal at one point this season, must now improve if he is to help Wolfsburg stave off a seemingly unthinkable relegation this season.
If not, it is hard to see Origi having a future at Liverpool at all.
Is Jurgen Klopp moulding Jordan Henderson into Liverpool’s Michael Carrick?
The Liverpool midfielder is finally starting to move the ball forward in brisker fashion.
Liverpool are currently putting up a great fight in the race to be best of the rest in the Premier League this season. At the weekend they continued that form, by getting the better of Newcastle United at Anfield. Plenty of players shined in that performance, including Jordan Henderson.
The midfielder is one of English football’s more divisive figures. Finding a follower of the England national team that is a fan of Henderson can sometimes be a needle in a haystack mission.
Yet he continues to be a regular in the improving Liverpool side, but he has certainly made changes to his playing style recently.
One criticism often laid at Henderson’s door is his negative passing frequency. For many England fans, and Liverpool fans, watching Henderson pass sideways to a full-back or back to his centre-backs became a far too common occurrence. Recently, however, Henderson has become more probing.
Now the 27-year-old is changing his game and is constantly looking to get the ball forward. It helps of course that Henderson is now playing with such talents as Roberto Firmino, Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane. The movement in front of Henderson is becoming world-class and now he is finally starting to provide more direct ammunition.
To compare him to another player, Manchester United midfielder Michael Carrick springs to mind.
The greatest attribute the 36-year-old has is that ability to get the ball and, before anything else, see if he has a pass on ahead of him.
It is a trait currently being shown by his potential long-term replacement Scott McTominay.
Henderson is finally starting to adapt his game to play in a much more forward thinking and brisk fashion.
Such expeditious play from Liverpool’s midfield maestro combines perfectly with his obvious physical ability and tackling nous.
Hopefully he can continue to become more and more like Carrick. If he does then Liverpool and England’s front-men will be extremely thankful.
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