One of the few bright lights in an otherwise dreary beginning to this season has been the dazzling form of Roberto Firmino. The man who many had written off and were ready to be rid of has come up with timely goals on numerous occasions and rescued results for a struggling Liverpool.
Former Liverpool defender and captain Phil Thompson is thrilled to see the Brazilian forward back on form and thinks the Man of the Match from Wednesday’s thrashing of Rangers has to be in the XI when the Reds kickoff against Manchester City at Anfield this evening.
“Bobby Firmino has always been my favorite player for what he brings to the side, the intelligence, the high press - when to do it, when not to do it - this fella is so important to the side and it gives Jurgen Klopp a bit of a conundrum for the weekend,” said Thompson on the Off The Ball Podcast this week.
Thompson did admit that Firmino’s form leaves an interesting decision for a manager Jürgen Klopp given it’s difficult to drop any of Mohamed Salah, Darwin Núñez, or Diogo Jota, and Firmino is wasted if not deployed centrally.
“How do you fit Bobby Firmino in?” pondered Thompson. “He’s got to play Darwin Núñez, who scored in the last couple of games, but then Bobby can’t play left, can’t play right, so does he go 4-2-3-1 as he has in the last few games? Then you can see Bobby as a No.10, and he deserves to be in the team. Will Jurgen go to 4-3-3 and match up a little bit with Manchester City?”
Given Klopp has gone with the 4-2-3-1 that sees the Reds play with a striker, a man in behind the striker, and two wingers in the last few games, it does seem likely that he’ll deploy a similar look today. It’s not hard to imagine he used the previous games as a test to get the squad acclimated to the new formation in preparation for City.
What that would likely mean is Núñez in front with Firmino behind and flanked by Jota and Salah. Given that the Reds have lined up similarly in recent days, and the forward group is in much better form as a whole than the midfield group, who have struggled mightily, it would be surprising to not see the 4-2-3-1 again against Pep Guardiola’s side.
Ultimately though, Thompson is right. However the Reds lineup, Bobby Firmino needs to be on the pitch at kickoff.