Roberto Firmino, Sadio Mane and Mo Salah were once a feared trio. The Liverpool attack have been one of the best in European football over the last few years.
Yet, in 2020/21, they have been struggling on a consistent basis. The Reds have now lost five consecutive games at Anfield for the first time in the club’s history, for instance.
The Merseyside outfit have also failed to score from open play at home in more than ten hours and, against Chelsea on Thursday, they never looked like banishing that unenviable run. Liverpool had a solitary shot on target and, once Salah was substituted, they didn’t create any chance of merit.
That was a bizarre moment in the game. Very rarely does Jurgen Klopp take off his main man, something that was made all the more perplexing by the displays of Mane and Firmino.
The former had fewer touches in the game than Alisson but it was their Brazilian dynamo who arguably struggled more. Firmino has had a tough campaign and, in a year where Liverpool are failing to score with as much regularity, his lack of prowess in front of goal is becoming an even bigger worry.
The £180,000-per-week forward has netted just six times in 27 Premier League outings this term, a shambolic record for someone leading the line. Of course, Firmino is also there to provide assists, but with Mane and Salah misfiring, that aspect of his game has been redundant too.
Against Chelsea on Thursday, he should have left Klopp seething with his display. He didn’t pick up the little pockets of space in which we’ve become accustomed to seeing him operate, and as such, the Reds found life difficult.
Firmino only had one shot in the match, an attempt that went off target, but he was wasteful in possession too and was bullied by the Chelsea defence. He lost the ball on 15 occasions and came off second best in a massive 60% of his duels on the ground and in the air.
He very rarely got any change from Andreas Christensen in the Blues defence with the big Danish centre-back being named Sky Sports’ Man of the Match. Alongside Antonio Rudiger, he brushed aside the Liverpool forward with relative ease. With the Brazilian’s abject display in mind, Klopp was never going to get the better of Thomas Tuchel.
With Diogo Jota now back to fitness, Firmino’s place should be under threat.
To make matter worse, his long-term future in Merseyside may also be in doubt. The need for a better striker to lead the Liverpool line has been talked up for months.