Jurgen Klopp is gearing up for a huge test against Manchester City in the Premier League on Sunday following Liverpool’s 7-1 thrashing of Rangers in the Champions League on Wednesday.
Roberto Firmino simply has to start for Liverpool in their huge showdown against Manchester City this weekend after starring against Rangers, according to Michael Owen.
Firmino bagged two goals and an assist in the Reds’ 7-1 thrashing in the Champions League on Wednesday night. The Brazilian now has eight goals and four assists in 12 appearances across all competitions, having managed just 11 goals last season and nine the term before.
The 31-year-old appeared to be being marginalised by the £85million signing of Darwin Nunez in the summer, yet is in some of the best goalscoring form of his Liverpool career. Former Liverpool striker Owen believes that Jurgen Klopp has now choice but to find a place for him in his starting line-up for the Premier League clash with Man City on Sunday afternoon.
Even with that (Sadio Mane leaving) people would’ve put him in fifth in the pecking order,” Owen said on BT Sport. “The biggest game in the Premier League is this weekend [and] I can’t imagine he’s not playing. He’s already had such a good season, recent form, I don’t think Jurgen Klopp can leave him [out].
He added: “He was the star player tonight. OK, [Mohamed] Salah scored a hat-trick but it’s a lot easier to do that as a substitute [against] tired legs. Talk to me about that [the assist]: the ball is slightly behind him but he just improvises and is total quality. It’s hard breaking the deadlock when it’s level or tight and he scored two really important goals that set Liverpool on the way. The rest was the icing on the cake.”
After Scott Arfield’s shock opener, Firmino scored the equaliser with a flicked near-post header from Kostas Tsimikas’ corner. And he made it 2-1 by tucking in Joe Gomez’s perfectly-weighted cross before setting up Nunez to put them two goals clear.
Liverpool then ran away with things, as Salah climbed off the bench to score the Champions League’s fastest ever hat-trick and Harvey Elliott got in on the act late on. Despite Salah’s impact, the post-match chat was dominated by Firmino praise.
“I think in this atmosphere, the players can get caught up because it’s so electric it’s hustle and bustle – never Firmino,” Rio Ferdinand said. “Everything slows down, played at his pace, he just has this fluidity, he improvises, that’s that Brazilian samba that separates him from other players.”
Ally McCoist added: “I said before the game, I was a great admirer of his game knowledge, game intelligence. I think he’s an extremely clever player. He’s one of these players, if you make a run, they know where you are.
There’s only certain players who have an awareness of where you are on the pitch, he’s one of them. He’s looking to see where [James] Tavernier is, great ball. Looking at Firmino, he looks to see where the right-back is to go ‘okay, I’ll stay this side and I’ll make my run’. It’s a brilliant goal from a very clever player.”