It is the time of the year.
No, perhaps not the most wonderful time of the year but the time of year when Liverpool fans begin to wonder Roberto Firmino. The aids have dried up, also, with the 28-year-old only adding two to his tally during this period.
In the win over Watford, the prior Hoffenheim maestro missed multiple opportunities to put the match to bed. It’s been a tiny frequent theme over recent weeks. Firmino is frequently getting into good locations but he’s just trying hard to convert these attempts. Team-mates are out him but there may soon come a point that the No.9 prices the table-toppers all 3 points.
And given the current game centers around quantifiable stats, the absence of goals and assists since October, makes him a prime target when things are not going to plan on the pitch. The likes of Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mané is able to be inconsistent in overall play since the duo chip in with vital goals when it matters most.
In the end, output newspapers over supposed cracks.
But this is not the first time Firmino was criticised. It is a yearly event now with the fleet-footed attacker failing to hit the peaks of Salah and Mané with regard to goals.
His return of 15 at the Premier League throughout the 2017/18 effort was his most prolific to date but pales compared to Mane’s all-time high 22 and Salah’s league record of 32.
The talk inevitably turns to if the Reds need a pure goalscorer directing the line in place of the Brazil international. Arguments are made for this with Timo Werner regularly getting a great deal of vocal support on social networking. RB Leipzig now leads the way in the Bundesliga and just Robert Lewandowski (18) can better Werner’s yield of 16 from 15 starts.
While the German global are a welcome addition at Anfield, if he had been set up in the Firmino role he would be a waste of money.
It has been said countless times before and it’ll undoubtedly be noted many more in the long run but there is nothing conventional about Firmino as an attacker. So simply looking to sign someone who scores goals is not going to cut it. They, the new striker, might find the back of the net with more regularity but it would come at the cost of Mané and Salah.
He manipulates the resistance to make opportunities for team-mates. He does lots of defensive work so others do not have to and he is the only real reason Liverpool can, sometimes, the shift into a 4-2-3-1 shape. When playing as the guy behind the striker for the Reds, he’s got to do all three things.
The aforementioned shows why Firmino is indeed imperative to the team, even if he is not scoring. With Trent Alexander-Arnold and James Milner pushing to behave as wingers. Throughout the build-up, Henderson would fall into a ideal centre-back role, which would leave Wijnaldum in midfield.
If Firmino didn’t fall to encourage the Dutchman, the balance of the group would have been all wrong. He is press-resistant and progressive in drama. The Hornets regularly appeared to place pressure on the hosts on Saturday but the No.9 had a massive part in the Reds keeping ownership.
He didn’t find a good deal of the ball, trying just 33 moves on the afternoon, but he kept things ticking over. He completed near 80 percent and he played one crucial pass. Firmino tried five dribbles and finished three of them, whilst also winning three of those five tackles he tried.
Jürgen Klopp gave Naby Keïta something of a free role but that was just permitted to occur because Firmino was doing plenty of work in midfield.
The hosts on the night seemed to press. Liverpool, originally, found it tough to get on the ball and this is what compelled the change, with Klopp moving Keïta into more of a number ten function. To balance this, Firmino began dropping deeper to get on the ball. Salzburg would then seem to close him down and this could create space elsewhere.
The goals are not there. The aids have dried up, too, however, the No.9 remains important for this Liverpool side. In actuality, his flexibility probably puts him in the peak of the list. Can he be better? Yes.