Last season it was Mane that received much of the plaudits as Liverpool returned to the Champions League. This season it’s Salah, who has come to the Premier League and hit the ground running both physically and metaphorically. However there’s one player that is often overlooked by people outside Liverpool, Roberto Firmino.
Since the Brazilian’s arrival at Anfield he has scored 27 goals in 83 appearances, but only this season has he moved to become Liverpool’s main striker having previously occupied attacking midfield positions.
When Firmino plays well, Liverpool play well. His defensive work is as crucial as his attacking work to Jurgen Klopp’s pressing style, often regaining possession high up the pitch to start attacks.
Klopp described Firmino as “the engine of the team” in November and his performance against Bournemouth in their last game was typical of Firmino. For Lovren’s goal, when everyone else expected the ball to go out of play, Firmino carried on. He hooked the ball over his shoulder and took the game away from Bournemouth before getting himself on the scoresheet later on.
When Arsenal host Liverpool at the Emirates they cannot afford any of the rookie defending that cost them so dearly against Utd. Firmino has capitalised on the naive nature of Arsenal’s defending in previous meetings with 4 goals and 2 assists against the Gunners.
Firmino is yet to be on the losing side against Arsenal and if the Brazilian is on form on Friday night he has every chance of continuing that personal unbeaten run.