The second round of the League Cup semi-final coming up on Tuesday doesn’t leave a lot of time for reflecting on Saturday’s victory over Norwich City, but we would be remiss if we didn’t find space to squeeze in a look at Roberto Firmino’s man of the match performance against the Canaries.
After showing signs of settling under Jürgen Klopp in the autumn, with a starring turn against Manchester City in a false nine roll, last summer’s big signing from the Bundesliga has really hit his stride in January. Saturday saw him again at his best, putting to rest questions of whether he can be effective in the false nine roll.
Two goals and an assist were his rewards for being Liverpool’s best player on the pitch, and he could have had a few more of the latter had his teammates put away the chances he created for them as well as his two superbly taken goals. He’s expected to get another run out leading the line on Tuesday against Stoke.
"I think it’s a wide spectrum," said manager Jürgen Klopp when asked about having Firmino leading the line. "Roberto is a striker. He’s a very attacking player. A lot of strikers are 1.6, 1.7 meters or something. Leo Messi, what’s he? Firmino can play there and score goals so he is good for us as an option to play with."
In the six games Firmino has led the line for Liverpool, he has five goals and four assists. Considering only time on the pitch in the role, he has created or scored 1.47 goals per 90 when leading the line. It’s a return amongst the best in Europe, and one that any striker in the world would be thrilled to have.
Luis Suarez this season at Barcelona has 29 goals and 14 assists in all competitions. That’s a total that translates to 1.42 goals and assists per 90. Lionel Messi has 1.34. Ronaldo is 1.37. In England, Jamie Vardy is at 0.91 and Harry Kane has 0.65. Germany’s top scorer, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, has 1.29.
Firmino’s return may not be sustainable—it is, after all, a small sample size compared to some of Europe’s other top attackers—but it’s a return to date that should be celebrated. So, without further ado, his performance against Norwich City on Saturday. Enjoy.
Video by MrBoywunder