Is Roberto Firmino the player to take Jurgen Clop's Liverpool to the Champions League?
Signed by Brendan Rodgers, Roberto Firmino began his Liverpool career in a somewhat subdued fashion. The Brazilian was given a 13-minute cameo against Stoke to start his Liverpool career. By the time he’d played a full 90 minutes, in the 1-0 win against Leicester, Rodgers had left and been replaced by Jurgen Klopp.
Under Rodgers, Firmino, known as ‘Bobby’ to the Anfield faithful, had only scored 1 goal as he commonly appeared from the bench late on in games. The Brazilian seemed to struggle, potentially due to the weight of his transfer fee, then Liverpool’s second most expensive signing behind the flop Andy Carroll, and also being under the shadow of compatriot Philippe Coutinho.
In comparison to his international team-mate, Coutinho had scored 5 goals by the time Firmino first completed 90 minutes, at home to Leicester.
Under Klopp, however, Firmino’s form has found a new level. The Brazilian went on to outscore Coutinho last season, bagging ten times compared to the former Inter man’s eight.
Firmino also became a key playmaker as Coutinho was shifted out to the left in order to accommodate both talents. The former Hoffenheim star created 48 chances last season, with the highs of 6 chances created in a single game, against Leicester, and 5 against Manchester United, coming under his new manager Jurgen Klopp. ‘Bobby’ went on to create 48 chances, 7 of which were turned into the back of the net by his teammates.
This season, Firmino has started in fine fettle scoring twice in 4 games while also creating 14 key chances. The player looks revitalised after gaining a full preseason while also seems to have adopted Jurgen Klopp’s philosophy having attempted 10 tackles high up the pitch already this season.
Having no Europa League fixtures this year may also play into Firmino’s hands. Having missed 7 Premier League games last season, the Brazilian now has a week to recover allowing him to work even harder for his manager, impressing him even more.
The lack of European football may also push Liverpool closer to a Champions League as other team’s fixtures congest and cause injury.
The Brazilian was ruled out the game against Chelsea on Friday night due to a minor groin injury but was involved in a press conference earlier in the day revealing his ambition to become ‘Liverpool’s Neymar’ under Jurgen Klopp, the Anfield faithful will certainly hope he does.
With the confidence to state his ambition and make it public, it’s certain Firmino means business. The signs show he is enjoying his football, while on the pitch fans have seen glimpses of his talent. The composed finish to score his first goal of the season against Leicester, and the back heel into Daniel Sturridge’s path portray his confidence.
The jovial Firmino also revealed that his work rate comes from his hyperactive nature, while also reminiscing on his days as a defender which may allow fans to understand how he’s so capable when called upon defensively.
However, for all that Firmino has technically, he isn’t the quickest. At times last season, Lallana, Coutinho and Firmino didn’t have the speed to break. Yet this season, Klopp has added the lightning quick Mane to complement the technicians he already has. The powerhouse Georginio Wijnaldum has also been a welcome addition in the defensive two behind the attacking unit.
Mane has developed an instant relationship with his teammates, resulting in 2 goals and one assist in 3 appearances. The former Southampton man has provided Liverpool with an out ball to break away on the counter or relieve pressure, of which Liverpool have had very little of after being so dominant in the first 4 games of the season. An example of Mane’s pace is seen in Liverpool’s fourth goal against Leicester.
The 24-year-old beats a wandering Kasper Schmeichel to the ball before calmly finding his teammate Firmino, who slots the ball home to end the tie.
Credit has to go to Jurgen Klopp and Liverpool’s recruitment team for adding Mane to the ranks, yet the player who Brendan Rodgers brought in, and failed to get the best out of, last year seems to be the key for Liverpool this season. Roberto Firmino is showing all the talent that tempted Liverpool to sign him and if he continues the form he’s shown, he could be the player to send Liverpool back to where their whole fan base thinks they belong, the Champions League.
Featured Image: All Rights Reserved by LFC Season 2015-2016.
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