Liverpool may have prevailed 3-2 in the end against West Ham on Monday night, but one man who endured yet another game to forget at Anfield, was Roberto Firmino.
The Brazilian has been quite rightly lauded by pundits like Jamie Carragher, who called him “one of the most underrated players in the Premier League” back in early 2018.
The former Hoffenheim man has scored an impressive 76 goals and provided a further 59 assists in 231 total games for the club, and is one of the first names on the team-sheet for Jurgen Klopp – this season alone has seen him play 39 times across all competitions, including featuring in every single Premier League match so far.
But following his goal-less display against the Hammers on Monday evening, Firmino’s struggles on home turf have continued. It now means he has still yet to find the back of the net at Anfield this season – a remarkable stat considering how he is stationed at the top of the attack for a side who are the second-top scorers in the league with 64.
And aside from not breaking his duck, Firmino had an unusually poor overall game too. As per Sofascore, his 6.8 match rating was the joint-second lowest of any Liverpool player, and when looking at the underlying numbers, it is easy to see why.
His wasteful finishing was undeniably the most obviously disappointing part of his performance, racking up five total shots without hitting the back of the net – four of those attempts were off target, including one particularly wild effort that was closer to Row Z than the goal.
His creativity also deserted him too, registering just one key pass all game, and having only 60 touches. He simply looked off the pace, and it was no surprise to see him get well-marshalled by the likes of Issa Diop and Angelo Ogbonna in the West Ham defence. The Brazilian lost nine of his twelve total duels, and struggled to impose himself on the game.
And that is exactly why Klopp seriously needs to reconsider his December stance on the forward.
“Journalists told me he hadn’t scored for a while, but the thing about Bobby is that I don’t think about scoring. I think about how important he is, so we had a little talk and I told him. For the first time he was a little bit concerned about that fact (he had not scored in so many games), and I told him I was not interested in that number”
On Monday night, Firmino’s desperate struggles in front of goal almost cost them dearly. The Reds may be cantering away to the title with a 22-point lead, but there are some historic records they can set. If he isn’t scoring, and is also not providing the same all-round influence that he usually does, then there is a real chance that Liverpool would perhaps benefit more with him having a rest or slightly changing up his style of play.
Rather than simply playing him through this surprising rut at Anfield, Klopp could revitalise him by dropping him to the bench, and then bringing him on when defences would be terrified at the prospect of having to facing him. The goals may then naturally come.