Before Wednesday's match, Jürgen Klopp said Roberto Firmino had been "the best player in the Bundesliga" for a time last season. Firmino more than lived up to that billing, key throughout as he turned in a man of the match performance to silence any critics or doubters.
"It's important for a new player to show this," said a satisfied Klopp following Liverpool's 1-0 victory over Bournemouth in the Capital One Cup. "For him it's good. He doesn't have to show me anything because I know him very well, but now we all know a little bit more about him. It was very intense from him tonight.
"If we hadn't had to make the change with Kolo we would have changed him a little earlier. We had to wait because maybe we would go to extra time, so it wasn't easy, but he worked really hard. He's ready, for this league for sure. He's strong, a good technician—everything you saw. Just usually he's a good finisher!"
Firmino struggled for consistent minutes under Brendan Rodgers, who reportedly had to be convinced by the transfer committee to sign off on Firmino, and when the usually robust attacker suffered a back injury that sidelined him for a month some began to openly wonder if his £29M signing may have been a mistake.
With Liverpool starting the night utilizing the same 4-3-2-1 formation they've started every match with under Klopp, Firmino took on a largely free role in support of Divock Origi. Before he was substituted, a shift to the 4-4-2 saw him playing just off Origi's shoulder—a role Adam Lallana took on when he was introduced.
He looked dangerous in both roles, and how Liverpool approach Chelsea on Saturday may depend on whether Jordon Ibe starts, as the young winger looked far more dangerous following the late switch that allowed him to take a wider role. Either way, Firmino will start. After Wednesday, expectations will once again be high.