During the international break, we were given a timely reminder of why a small section of critics may have been a little premature to question Roberto Firmino and his first-team prospects at Liverpool.

For Brazil, Firmino started in both matches for the five-time World Cup winners and scored twice – his only goals of the season.

Jurgen Klopp will be delighted to see one of his most indispensable players return from national team duty with a spring in between his steps.

Aston Villa v Liverpool - Premier League - Roberto Firmino

BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND – OCTOBER 04: A dejected Roberto Firmino of Liverpool comes off during the Premier League match between Aston Villa and Liverpool at Villa Park on October 4, 2020 in Birmingham, United Kingdom. Sporting stadiums around the UK remain under strict restrictions due to the Coronavirus Pandemic as Government social distancing laws prohibit fans inside venues resulting in games being played behind closed doors. (Photo by Matthew Ashton – AMA/Getty Images)

Firmino has looked isolated up-front for Liverpool where he has enjoyed a tough start to the season. The Brazilian is without a goal for the Reds since July and it has done no good to his confidence.

He does, however, have two assists to his name and has clocked up seven key passes so far this season. A key improvement for Firmino to kick on would be from a statistical outlook. He has managed just six shots so far all season, just three of which were on target. To put that into perspective, Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane have clocked up a combined 32 shots between themselves – according to WhoScored.

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Mostly Firmino has looked too isolated up-top, leading to him snatching at shots when he does get opportunities.

Firmino has similar struggles in terms of goals and assists as he has managed to get on the scoresheet for Liverpool on just one solitary occasion in the team’s previous 20 league matches.

Indeed, we all know that Firmino’s game goes well beyond just putting the ball into the back of the net although these numbers do prompt a number of concerns.

That is why this international break will have done Firmino a world of good with the Merseyside vastly approaching. Hopefully, he will return to Merseyside with an added boost both mentally and physically.

Peru v Brazil - South American Qualifiers for Qatar 2022

LIMA, PERU – OCTOBER 13: Neymar Jr. and Roberto Firmino of Brazil celebrate the second goal of their team scored by Richarlison (not in frame) of Brazil during a match between Peru and Brazil as part of South American Qualifiers for Qatar 2022 at Estadio Nacional de Lima on October 13, 2020 in Lima, Peru. (Photo by Daniel Apuy/Getty Images)

Now it’s time to step up

Firmino has so far cut a peripheral figure up-top and in Liverpool’s recent defeat to Aston Villa, he was a total bystander. He managed to touch the ball on just 44 occasions – Adrian had 40 touches despite playing in goal.

Liverpool’s inability to utilise Firmino and get their most innovative player on the ball proved costly and will be something that Klopp could look to change.

Rather than drop Firmino altogether, Klopp could look to alternate the formation in an attempt to get the best out of Firmino with more attacking options pushed further forward.

This could most effectively be used in a 4-2-3-1 system as the reinstatement of Thiago Alcantara in the team will offer Liverpool another element in possession as the Spaniard will be able to control the flow and tempo of the match from midfield – a quality that was totally absent at Villa Park.

Brazil use the same formation with Neymar, Philippe Coutinho and Richarilson all tucked behind the Liverpool No.9. It resulted in nine goals in their previous two matches.

We all know what Firmino is capable of and there isn’t a cause too much concern so early on in the season. By tweaking things from a tactical perspective, we could see Firmino given a new role in the team which could elevate the 29-year-old’s game and remind supporters of what he is capable of.


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