Pressing from the front, movement, dragging opponents out of position and interchanging with teammates. Roberto Firmino might not have the goal rate of Daniel Sturridge. He might not even be an outright striker. Yet it’s clear that manager Jürgen Klopp favours what he brings to the side.
The Liverpool manager believes that even if his striker scores fewer goals when Firmino is his striker, the team around him will score more and his press will be more effective—which in turn will mean the opposition have the ball less and, one would hope at least, score fewer goals themselves.
For former Liverpool defender and current Sky pundit Jamie Carragher, this means that Sturridge may have to step back, look at the things Firmino is doing to get selected ahead of him, and adjust his game. Because if he can adjust his game, then Sturridge’s goal return makes him undroppable.
“At this moment, Jürgen Klopp favours Firmino more for that central striker position, and he’s only playing with the one striker,” said Carragher. “It’s a problem for Daniel. So that’s something he has to think about, where can he improve? What’s Firmino doing that he’s not doing?
“Every manager sees it differently and right now Jürgen Klopp is going for [Firmino]. But Daniel Sturridge as a striker is outstanding, he’s one of the greatest strikers Liverpool have had. We know he can do that, but maybe Jürgen wants different things from that position and Daniel’s got to look at that.”
Both Sturridge and Firmino are currently on duty with their national teams, with both players expected to start on the bench. Firmino and Brazil face Bolivia tonight before travelling to play Venezuela on Tuesday. England host Malta on Saturday before hitting the road to take on Slovenia on Tuesday.