Whilst Liverpool picked up all three points with a 2-0 win against Sheffield United on Sunday evening, it should have been a lot more comfortable for Jurgen Klopp’s side.
Unfortunately, the main culprit in terms of not putting the game to bed much earlier was, once again, Roberto Firmino, as the Brazilian spurned two glorious chances before the Reds were eventually able to take the lead through Curtis Jones.
First, the former Hoffenheim man found himself through on goal under no pressure but he could only shoot straight at Aaron Ramsdale, despite the ‘keeper being on the floor.
Then, after Georginio Wijnaldum’s shot was parried by Ramsdale, the striker was inside the box with the goal gaping and should have shot with his left foot, but instead, he cut the ball back to a Sheffield United defender, which summed up his lack of confidence in front of goal at the moment.
Although his excellent dribbling did lead to Liverpool’s second goal, his actual shot looked to be heading well wide until it was deflected in by Kean Bryan for an own goal, which is worrying for Klopp as it was definitely a situation where he should at least have been hitting a shot on target.
With Diogo Jota set to return to action in upcoming games, Firmino may fear that, unless his performances in front of goal drastically improve, he could see himself ousted by his Portuguese teammate.
Whilst Firmino offers a unique, often underappreciated, role in this Liverpool team, there is no denying that his finishing at times this season, particularly against Sheffield United, has been woeful.
The 29-year-old has six goals and five assists in 26 Premier League appearances this season but has underperformed when it comes to his expected goals, with Understat suggesting that he should have at least 10 goals in the top-flight.
Worryingly, this is the third consecutive season where the Brazilian has underperformed in this aspect, and whilst it didn’t have too much impact last season when the Reds won the league, you feel that they would be in a much better position this season if they had a more clinical striker.
Back in 2018, Klopp suggested that Firmino is “unbelievably valuable” because of his ability to open up chances for other players, but with the Reds having struggled to find the back of the net in recent fixtures, you need a striker who can be relied upon to take his chances.
Therefore, perhaps we will see Firmino or Jota drop into an attacking-midfield role now that they are both fit, to allow the more clinical Mohamed Salah to move up front, as Sunday’s game against Bramall Lane really emphasised Firmino’s lack of composure in front of goal.