It was business as usual for Liverpool as they scored another three past Arsenal on Saturday, upping their tally to 12 goals against the Gunners at Anfield in past three seasons. In this player analysis, we will look into Roberto Firmino’s performance against Arsenal, using statistics.
Goals from Joel Matip and a brace from Mohamed Salah got the Reds over the line in what was a dominant performance from start to finish, but the real talking point was about a certain Brazilian magician in the form of Roberto Firmino.
Some on social media have argued that this was his greatest ever non-goalscoring performance in a Liverpool shirt. His link-up play, composure and eye for a pass in the opposition half was so attractive for the neutral and for Liverpool fans to watch. His position and style of play remains quite unique, particularly in the Premier League, as opposition defenders and managers have still not uncovered an efficient way to deal with the 27-year-old.
Despite teammate Salah receiving the Premier League’s infamous yellow trophy which awards the man of the match and resembles men’s aftershave packaging, some argued that the former Hoffenheim man should have received the honour.
Whoscored back up this claim, his linkup play racked up a pass completion rate of 79.6% out of 44 passes. His flicks, vision and the determination to drop deep and the ability to get the ball out to the fullbacks was inspired; and evidently redefined the term “false 9”.
From an offensive point of view, Firmino’s touch was a bit off during the game as he lost the ball on five different occasions due to bad control. But he had his eye in for goal as he had six attempts on the Arsenal sticks, one of which was an unbelievable flick over the head of Arsenal’s Dani Ceballos and struck the ball first time on the volley, something that you would see on a futsal court as opposed to a football pitch. Exquisite.
Typical of Liverpool’s playing style with the intensity and work rate that Jurgen Klopp has installed into his side, the Brazilian tracked back and made two tackles, a combined total of eight among the front three. This stat is probably not the most surprising of this article but provides transparency on how hard this Liverpool team works throughout the 90 minutes.
It can be difficult for players like Roberto Firmino, who arrived from the German Bundesliga side Hoffenheim in 2015 and has found himself outside of the media spotlight in comparison to the likes of Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah. But even if his work is consistently undervalued and unappreciated by the media, he remains, arguably, one of the most underrated players in Liverpool and Premier League history and played a big part in Liverpool’s title hunt and Champions League victory last season.
His performance perfectly illustrates what the lad is all about. He won’t get you 30-40 goals a season like Sergio Aguero or Harry Kane potentially will, but he will swarm around you like an angry wasp, create space in and around the box, and supply to his other attacking colleagues. The front three are a perfect combination.
Firmino now has 8 goals in 9 games against the Gunners and could possibly consider this game as a personal favourite of his because of his chance conversion rate against the north-London outfit. But like before, Firmino will need to remain consistent and fit throughout the season in order to become a huge asset for Jurgen Klopp once again.