Jack Hallows believes that Liverpool’s 5-2 victory over AS Roma at Anfield proves that Roberto Firmino is the club’s most important player.
Mo Salah is likely to steal all the headlines and honestly, no one can deny he deserves them.
The Egyptian was once again the major difference for Liverpool against his old side Roma, scoring a scorcher to give the Reds the lead and doubling it with a deft dink over Alisson before turning provider for both Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mané in the second half.
However, while Salah undoubtedly ran the show at times, another Liverpool attacker proved just how vital he is to Jürgen Klopp’s system.
Like his Egyptian team mate, the Brazilian finished the match with a pair of both goals and assists, taking his season tallies to 27 and 17 respectively but it was his overall contribution that underlined just how good he really is.
Firmino finished the match having attempted five tackles, winning three, with two being completed high up the field and the other three all deep within the Reds own half, highlighting his incredible work ethic.
The number 9 also completed all four of his attempted dribbles – the only Liverpool player to notch a 100% success rate other than Salah – won two aerial duels and registered a pass completion rate of 77%, the second most by any Liverpool player to have featured for over an hour, creating a total of five chances for teammates in the process.
Two of those resulted in a pair of goals for Salah.
It was his pass that found the Egyptian in space for his first and while he still had a lot to do to beat Alisson from that position, it was Firmino’s intelligence that saw him pick out his team mate in space rather than attempt to force the ball to one of Wijnaldum or Mané who had made runs through the middle.
His second assist was simply pure class. Keeping hold of possession under pressure, the Brazilian drew Roma’s quickest centre half Kostas Manolas out of position, allowing Salah to speed into the space then vacated between Fazio and Juan Jesus.
His through ball for the Egyptian was inch perfect and the weighting of the ball meant Salah had time to take a single touch, adjust his body shape, wait for Alisson to go to ground and then simply flick it over the onrushing keeper. 2-0.
There was also a welcome reminder of a newfound predatory instinct for both goals Firmino notched himself.
His first saw him make a typical striker’s run to the back post for a tap in while his second was a clever header from a James Milner corner.
Rising highest to meet the ball, Firmino made sure he headed it at pace into the ground, making it nigh on impossible for an outstretched Alisson to get anywhere near it. It may surprise some to note this was Firmino’s fifth headed goal of the season and was a nice reminder of how well-rounded his finishing ability is becoming.
It seems almost surreal to me that despite putting in performances like this with freakish regularity this season, pundits, opposition fans and ‘Twitter experts’ alike are still claiming that the Reds would be a more frightening proposition if they had a “20 goal a season striker, like Harry Kane,” leading the line.
Who else in world football can boast the title of being both a 20-goal a season striker and 20 assists a season playmaker wrapped into one, all while still leading the press and putting as much energy as he does into winning the ball back time and time again?
I guess that’s just one of the many aspects to our Bobby Dazzler’s charm… He’s still criminally underrated.