30 Oct 2015

Liverpool Switch: Molby urges Klopp to replace Coutinho with 'awesome' £29m attacker in coveted 'central' role

After his man-of-the-match performance against Bournemouth on Wednesday, Roberto Firmino is nailed on to start Saturday's Premier League game with Chelsea, and according to Reds legend Jan Molby, it's time for the 'awesome' Brazilian to permanently usurp Coutinho and Lallana in the number-10 role.

In his column for the Liverpool Echo this week, Molby explained:

"Firmino can play anywhere but he’s a central guy. The majority of players who are out wide these days have real pace which he doesn’t have. [He needs to play] behind a central striker, there’s no doubt in my mind".

I don't think many Liverpool fans will disagree with this. Klopp has done a good job of playing 'aces in their places' so far, and to get the best out of Firmino, he clearly needs to played in a central role.

Indeed, Firmino's stats prove that he's most effective playing central. At Hoffenheim:

* 153 appearances overall. Central attacking role in 71% of those games.

* Contributed 70 goals/assists in 109 apps as a number-10 (Goal/assist every 1.5 games).

* Conversely, Firmino was significantly less effective out wide. As a left/right winger: 12 goals/assists in 36 apps (Goal/assist every 3 games).

Coutinho's comparative stats for Liverpool:

* 115 appearances overall. Central attacking role in 51% of those games.

* Contributed 22 goals/assists in 59 apps as a number-10 (Goal/assist every 2.7 games).

* Out wide: 16 goals/assists in 38 apps (Goal/assist every 2.3 games)

As the stats show, despite playing in a comparatively inferior team (Hoffenheim), Firmino - who cost Liverpool £29m - was far more prolific than Coutinho in a central role.

By the same token, Coutinho is more prolific than his compatriot from wide positions. As such, it's arguably a no-brainer: Firmino should be given a run of games in the number-10 role.

Coutinho had had countless chances in the role, and he's failed to develop the requisite consistency. Lallana doesn't even come into the equation - his stats are so comparatively poor that they're not worth posting.

In my view, Coutinho should play on the left of Firmino, with Ibe or Teixeira on the right. Teixeira should also play as a number-10 in cup games, and as cover for Firmino in Premier League games.

As many fans have argued, Coutinho may benefit from changing position and playing in central midfield. I'd certainly rather see him there than Emre Can. Example lineup:

------------- Bogdan
Clyne --- Skrtel - Sakho ---- Moreno
--------- Milner - Lucas
-- Teixeira - Firmino - Coutinho
------------ Benteke


------------- Bogdan
Clyne --- Skrtel - Sakho ---- Moreno
--------- Milner - Lucas
------ Ibe - Firmino - Coutinho
------------ Benteke


------------- Bogdan
Clyne --- Skrtel - Sakho ---- Moreno
-------------- Lucas
------------- Coutinho
-- Milner --- Firmino - Teixeira
------------- Benteke

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Author: Jaimie K


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