Roberto Firmino was absolutely outstanding against Southampton. And that was largely down to the Saints themselves.
Southampton set up in a 4-4-2 formation at Anfield. It’s something we’ve seen before in an attempt to stop Liverpool’s fullbacks.
After all, if you can play more withdrawn wide players, it makes it a lot harder for Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson to find space. Tottenham Hotspur tried it last month, Napoli before them. It can work – at least, it did for Napoli.
But in doing so, teams open up another space. They no longer have a three-man midfield and thus there is a gap between their own defence and midfield.
And that’s Firmino’s space – when it’s there. Usually, it isn’t, as so many teams use at least one holding player. But in trying to stop the full-backs, they unlock the £29m man.
Suddenly, he can drop back and thrive in the hole. Firmino did just that against Southampton, setting up three of Liverpool’s four goals.
He was absolutely incredible and arguably Man of the Match at Anfield.
But plenty of credit for that is due for Jurgen Klopp. He has created a system so versatile that teams make problems for themselves in just trying to stop one of Liverpool’s many ways of playing.
Opposition effectively have to pick their own poison. Do you want to deal with the world’s best full-back pairing or risk unleashing Firmino on yourself?
Southampton picked Firmino. They may be wishing they didn’t.