Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane are going through very difficult spells. The duo are playing their futures into uncertainty.
Sadio Mane has one goal in his last 900 Premier League minutes. Roberto Firmino has one goal in his last 754 Premier League minutes.
That’s a combined 1654 minutes with two goals. Assists doesn’t make for much better reading – a combined three.
Two goals and three assists over a ten-game span is supposed to look underwhelming for each individually. Combined? It’s a huge worry.
Both players have struggled badly, particularly since the start of the year. That’s coincided with Liverpool’s horrendous run of form.
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The Reds can’t score goals when needed, effectively giving opponents a free pass to win games. And that’s largely down to these two.
Mohamed Salah has contributed all season, after all. He’s the Premier League’s top scorer and while he’s not been at his best, the Egyptian has delivered.
The underlying numbers look bad, too. Mane and Firmino both have identical xG (expected goals) in the Premier League – 10.5.
So with the quality of chances they’ve had, your average player should score 10. Mane has seven, Firmino has six.
Again, compare that to Salah. He’s got an xG of 13.8 but has 17 goals. Not counting penalties, his xG is 9.2 with 11 scored.
In other words, he outperforms his xG because he’s an elite player. That’s what you expect – he still scores, even without quality chances.
Mane turns 29 in one month. Firmino turns 30 in October. They’re not young players.
Thus their form becomes even more worrying. Is it a sign of decline? Do Liverpool have the time to get them back on track before they do decline?
These are very difficult questions but the club must answer them. Because right now, if you’re keeping one forward, it’s Salah. No question.
Mane and Firmino have to prove they can deliver over the next few years, then. And they have to do that quickly.
Otherwise, they’ll get replaced. Maybe by Diogo Jota, maybe by someone Liverpool sign this summer.
Either way, Liverpool cannot put up with this form for much longer.