???️ Roberto Firmino – Under Appreciated?

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Roberto Firmino: Cultured, industrious, and underappreciated? Should people be making more of the Brazilians performances for Liverpool? Roberto Firmino drew criticism from Pat Nevin this week, who gave the Brazilian a scorching review following the 3-3 collapse against Sevilla. Nevin claimed that Liverpool should expect more of the front man defensively. But was the criticism just? And was the former international even correct in his analysis? Let’s take a look. Nevin, the one-time Chelsea winger turned opinion-splitting pundit, was critical of the whole Liverpool team following the draw to Sevilla, and rightly so, the performance was woeful, the collapse seemed inevitable once Sevilla picked up steam, and the stats from Liverpool’s captain pointed towards a toothless and more importantly, clueless second half from the Reds. (55% passing 0 take-ons, 0 tackles won, 0 aerial duels won, 5 fouls, 1 booking) As Nevin rightly pointed out: ???Too many Liverpool players in that second half, they looked as if they felt the game had been won and stopped playing.’ But then Nevin took the strange choice to single out Roberto Firmino, for not helping out the team enough when it came to defending. ???I was getting really annoyed with Firmino, every time he got the ball he tried to flick it on, as a centre forward you don’t do that, its page one of the centre forwards handbook’ Spluttered Nevin. If like myself you’re a fan of Firmino you’ll realise this sort of criticism isn’t just undeserved, it’s borderline heresy. In the game vs. Sevilla, Firmino managed just the two well taken goals, as well as winning the flick-on for the Sadio Mane goal. After such a performance is it really Firmino we should be looking to as a focal point for blame? Firmino has received similar criticism from pundits since his arrival at Liverpool, either he doesn’t score enough goals, or he doesn’t work hard enough, neither of which stand up as arguments. The Brazilian has managed 8 goals and 4 assists this year in all competitions, meaning his goal involvement tally is only outdone by the scintillating Mo Salah. In reality, he shouldn’t be judged as a centre-forward, he’s a modern mix of the cultured false nine perfected by Lionel Messi under Pep Guardiola, and the sort of striker who’s tireless pressing of the backline only drags the team further up the pitch and embodies Jurgen Klopp’s ???Gegenpressing’ style. Many have been drawing comparisons with Firmino and Ian Rush, not only a prolific goal scorer, but one of the hardest working strikers there has been at Liverpool. His mazy runs off the ball and ability to drop deep into space only serve as absolute gifts to direct goal scoring wingers like Mane and Salah, who wouldn’t have nearly half the goals they do were it not for Firmino. ???He is the best player without scoring with how well he reads the game for the benefit of others. Outstanding!’ Says the boss, Klopp recognises the new position the striker has invented in his time at Liverpool, a ???false everything’ says Adam Jones, and the stats prove it, via @AIUnderPressure, March 11, 2017. Firmino against all CF in Europe that played > 15games: Passes                      1st Chances                 1st Assists                      10th Goals                       57th Tackles                    1st Sprints                    1st Distance                1st The standout stat unfortunately might be the 57th rank for goals, but does it matter? With the goal contribution from the likes of Salah, Mane and Coutinho who already have 22 goals between them this season, goals aren’t a necessity from our front man. Bill Shankly once told Kevin Keegan (who’s league goal tally never exceeded 13) ???Just go out and drop a few hand grenades all over the place son.’ The legendary manager had a way with words, and also saw the value of disruption, when done properly, a striker doesn’t need 20 goals a season if his contribution to the team as a unit is important enough.   Although as a goal scorer Firmino cannot be considered ???elite’, it’s his work ethic, his pressing and his runs off the ball, his unselfishness that compliments the team. Were we to substitute a more natural number nine into the team, we would suffer as a whole massively, even if that no. nine were to add 10 or 15 goals more than Firmino, Roberto easily makes up for that in his chances created, his assists, the space he creates for the wide men, and the defensive contribution from the front. He is invaluable to Liverpool, and if Pat Nevin doesn’t see it, thank God that Jurgen Klopp does
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