If anyone has watched a Liverpool match in the last three years, it’s been pretty clear who the vital pieces of the team are. The fullbacks of Andy Robertson and Trent Alexander-Arnold, of course, bring in a lot of the assists and creativity. The midfielders, recycling and changing the pace and direction of play. But the most important piece of the machine that is the Liverpool Football Club tactical system, isn’t even the 20+ goal scoring wingers. It’s striker Roberto Firmino. His ability to move through thirds of the pitch, create and manipulate space, is at times otherworldly. There’s plenty of reasons that Liverpool rely on him to make their system of organized chaos work.
Andy Robertson is all too aware of that, having supplied him with quite a few assists since signing for Liverpool in 2017.
“With his work-rate, his technique, his goals and his all-round play, I don’t think there’s anyone like him,” Robertson told the Echo on Sunday following Firmino’s MOTM performance against Burnley.
“People will say there are better strikers, but for me what he does is so important to our team. We’d be lost without him. He’s world class.
“He does everything, and that’s the beauty of Bobby. He can do it all. He’s our first line of defence, and I’ve not seen anybody better at doing that. He presses the defenders and doesn’t give them a minute. He comes back and nicks the ball in midfield for us.
“He’s so important defensively for us, then he goes up the park and scores goals and makes assists. That’s what we need him to do.
”He’s a good trainer, he perhaps doesn’t work as hard as he does in a game, but he saves it for a Saturday. The work he puts in during games is probably more than any other striker in the world.”
Most of Klopp’s tactical decisions depend on players being able to play defensively without losing their offensive edge, and our Bobby is and always has been the perfect example of that. An unselfish striker, he’s allowed his focus to be on winning the ball, even if he doesn’t get the goal in the end. One only has to watch games where he doesn’t start (which are few and far between) to see what an impact he has and how influential he can be on games. He’s practically unplayable for other teams, and a big reason why Liverpool are going into the September international break with 12 points from 4 games and a historic 13 win streak. But it’s only four out of a 38 game season, something Robertson was quick to point out.
“It means nothing because we’ve only got four wins this season,” said the Scotsman.
”Of course it’s nice to be in the record books and if that’s another box we’ve ticked off then great, but it’s not about that.
“It’s about four wins from four and top of the league going into the first international break. We had the aim to win the games we needed to win, luckily we’ve done that.
”Now we’ll have the break, come back and we’ve got another tough run.”
Robertson also spoke of his own partnership with Sadio Mane, following the drama of the weekend with Mane seemingly fuming after not receiving what could’ve been a goal-winning pass from Mohamed Salah. While that partnership may appear to be in whatever straits, Robertson is pretty happy with his link with Mane.
“Sadio is a naturally fit boy,” said Robertson, of Mane not needing much of a break or preseason after his summer’s AFCON adventures.
”He didn’t want rest, he wanted to come back and hit the ground running in the Premier League, which he’s done
“His goal was great, his all-round play got better as the game went on. I’ve got a good relationship with him on the left and hopefully that continues for many games and many years.
”He’s a fantastic player and I love playing with him. As long as he keeps doing what he’s doing, he’ll keep producing the numbers.
”The [front three] are world class players, and the goal doesn’t move. They know where the goal is, and they’re finding it at the moment.
”All three of them were fantastic, and hopefully that continues because we need them.”
We need all three of them, but probably most especially you Andy considering we don’t have a backup left-back anymore that isn’t James Milner, whoops.