Liverpool fans got their first chance to see Roberto Firmino in action yesterday against Swindon Town, and even if he hadn’t played particularly well, there likely would have been interest in taking a closer look at his afternoon. Fortunately, though, he did play well. In fact, he was one of Liverpool’s standouts on the afternoon, to the point where it will be difficult to keep him out of the starting lineup against Stoke.
Firmino started off in a narrow support position, playing from the left but looking to cut in and push past fellow new signing Christian Benteke whenever possible. It resulted in an early chance and, where Firmino sharper, might even have ended up with a goal, but Liverpool reserve ‘keeper and Swindon trialist Lawrence Vigouroux was wise to the danger and came charging off his line to stop him—and quite nearly put him out of the match.
It looked as though Vigouroux may have got a touch on the ball, but there was certainly a case for a penalty, and on another day it’s easy to see one being given. In either case, Firmino quickly shrugged off the knock and, when Joe Allen limped off, took up a more central position where his workrate and willingness to pressure the opposition was on clear display, leading to what should have been Christian Benteke’s first Liverpool goal.
He hadn’t played long enough on the left to really say what kind of an impact he might be able to make there, but his play in the more central areas—given the freedom to drift from side to side around Benteke and a job harrying Swindon when they had the ball—made a strong case that’s where he should be playing. In a roving ten role, he looked a special player, and he should only get better as he gets to know his new teammates.
If there was a negative to his afternoon, it was in that. Firmino was individually brilliant at times and threw in a number of nice passes, but there were times he missed a run or piece of movement, particularly from Benteke, who similar to Firmino could at times be seen thinking through each move rather than playing on the action and reaction of instinct. That familiarity and comfort, though, will come with time. For now, enjoy all the rest.
Video by MrBoywunder