Curtis Jones and Roberto Firmino are building a partnership with real potential. Jurgen Klopp might have something here.
Roberto Firmino is one of the more unique forwards in the Premier League. He’s a ‘False 9’, after all, not playing his position in a traditional way.
Firmino plays the striker role by drifting across and between lines, rarely staying central. He’s not the primary goalscorer and, instead, aims to help the team by creating goals through passing, pressing and movement.
The other thing about Firmino is that he’s not playing well. This is undoubtedly his weakest season with Liverpool – he just doesn’t look right.
Few comes off for him and sometimes he feels like a black hold in attack. But he’s still doing one thing right.
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The Brazilian’s movement is still stellar, even if he’s not doing much with the ball. And Liverpool can use that.
As we’ve recently written, Jurgen Klopp has new plans. He’s reverted back to his Philippe Coutinho-era tactics, with a very attack-minded centre-mid who tries to influence things.
Only this time, it’s 20-year-old Curtis Jones.
No, he’s not quite at 2017 Coutinho’s level but Jones is still playing at a very high standard. In fact, it’s no exaggeration to call him one of the best ball carriers in England.
For instance, Jones stands out when it comes to ‘progressive carries’ – a fancy was of saying ‘carrying the ball towards goal at least five yards’. He does this 10.1 times per game.
That’s fourth-best in the Premier League, when counting players with at least 900 minutes (the equivalent of 10 games). Only Bernardo Silva, Jack Grealish and Adama Traore do it more often.
What we really like about that is how those three often play in wider or more forward positions. Jones is very much a midfielder.
He still looks great when looking at carries into the final third – he’s 7th in the Premier League. Jones is 18th for touches in the attacking third, too.
This is all really impressive, then. And it’s something that meshes wonderfully well with Firmino.
As the Brazilian creates space with his movement, a midfielder like Jones can take advantage. We saw it against Sheffield United, in fact, as the Scouser popped up in the 18-yard box to score.
This is something we believe Klopp wants to integrate as he tries a more attacking formation. And the Jones / Firmino partnership could prove the making of it.