Liverpool slipped down the Premier League table after suffering their first loss of the season at the hands of a relentless Aston Villa side.
A shock 7-2 defeat at Villa Park has left Jurgen Klopp reeling, with very few positives to take away from any of his players.
The Reds were without Sadio Mane during their humiliating loss on the road and it certainly showed in their attack. Mohamed Salah singlehandedly netted both of Liverpool’s goals last night, but his lone efforts were nowhere near enough to give Liverpool a window back into the match.
Jurgen Klopp’s beloved Brazilian and the club’s No.9 has a truly unique role. Whilst Anfield has been graced with some of the best strikers of their time, Roberto Firmino operates in a completely different manner. Whilst he has been questioned for his lack of goals scored before, his deeper playing role allows for clinical wingers Salah and Mane to do the talking in front of the net.
This certainly worked last season as Liverpool lifted their first ever Premier League trophy. The attacking trio finished the term on a combined 57 goals and 38 assists, continuing to prove that their niche set up really does get the club results.
However, when one of Klopp’s main goal sources is absent – which isn’t very often due to their impeccable fitness – Firmino becomes a lot more exposed and his lack of goals could quickly be turning into a problem for the reigning league champions.
Despite assisting Salah’s second goal against Villa, the Brazilian was unable to capitalise on his own chances. Firmino managed two shots on target but couldn’t convert – even squandering a glaring opportunity to pull a goal back for his side and open up his account for the season (via Sofascore).
Last time round, the 29-year-old scored just nine league goals for the 2019/20 campaign. For a winger, this would be a highly respectable number, but for the focal point of a title-winning side’s attack, it’s extremely questionable. When comparing his goal count to other Premier League strikers from the same season, he is way behind the pack.
Golden Boot winner Jamie Vardy tallied 23 goals in total, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Danny Ings both fell short of the accolade with 22 and even Harry Kane, who missed nine games due to injury, scored an impressive 18.
Further down the table, but still high in double figures, Raul Jimenez and Marcus Rashford (17), Sergio Aguero (16) and Tammy Abraham (15) all led their team from the front with impressive goalscoring performances (via Premier League).
A striker should be a player the manager can rely on for goals, that goes without saying. Whilst Firmino’s vision and footballing IQ is too valuable to bench, Klopp should be considering revamping his attack and perhaps recruiting a natural goal poacher to play slightly ahead of a deeper-lying Firmino.
If this is an option for Liverpool, they have less than a day to get something done. With Rhian Brewster now with Sheffield United, Klopp has just Divock Origi to rely on, which may not be enough to try and win back-to-back Premier League titles if Firmino isn’t playing well.