14 Jan 2016

Barnes raves: 'Spectacular' £100k-a-week Liverpool star was 'at his best' against Arsenal. Agree?

Much to the delight of Liverpool fans everywhere, £29m summer signing Roberto Firmino turned on the style against Arsenal, and (for the most part) delivered a performance fill with skill, creativity, and - importantly - actual end product. Firmino can also be guilt of disappearing in certain games, but according to Anfield legend John Barnes, the Arsenal game represented the perfect game environment for the Brazilian to succeed.

Analysing the game for LFC.com, Barnes observed:

"In the first half when it was an open game, you saw Firmino at his best for Liverpool. The game was made for him, but what we want to see is consistency".

Barnes is arguably right, and it's fair to say that Firmino* - whose goals were described as 'spectacular' by Jurgen Klopp - has excelled this season against team that try and play against Liverpool, and don't just park the bus (i.e. Man City and Chelsea).

The problem is that these games are few and far between, and it's not enough to just perform against teams that leave huge gaps in midfield/defence.

All attacking players love having time and space on the ball, but when Firmino is hassled, tightly marked and/or faced with an immovable defensive line, he struggles (as do all Liverpool's attacking players), and that explains (IMO) why he's struggled for goals/assists over the last ten games.

With any luck, Firmino will take great confidence from his performance against Arsenal, and take his goalscoring form into Sunday's clash with Manchester United. If Klopp sets up the same way (Benteke on the bench; Firmino up-front), and approaches the game with the same intensity, then Liverpool have a great chance of winning the match.

On the subject of Benteke: I'm a fan of the Belgian striker, but the proof is in the pudding: Liverpool are significantly more fluid and effective in the final third without him, and whilst that's the case, he'll have to settle for a place on the bench.

* Reported salary: £100k-a-week

Author: Jaimie K


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