The statistics that prove Roberto Firmino is Liverpool's most important player
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Roberto Firmino is probably the most underrated player in the Premier League.
The Liverpool forward is essential to Jurgen Klopp's high-intensity pressing style, and he's a very intelligent, selfless footballer, who links up play and improves those around him. Liverpool fans recognise his importance, and Klopp has dubbed him the team's "engine." Mohamed Salah has rightly won plaudits for his brilliant goal scoring record this season, and some fans may still mourn the loss of Philippe Coutinho.
But is there an argument to make that Firmino is actually Liverpool's most important player? The Defending in Numbers podcast highlighted some very interesting statistics on this week's show that suggests so.
Jake Entwistle, Oliver Young-Myles and host Rob Armstrong discussed a range of topics on this week's show, including the importance of Firmino to Liverpool, and his excellent performance against Manchester City last Sunday. The Brazilian scored his 17th goal of the season in the 4-3 win at Anfield, and was probably Liverpool's best player on the day.
"Liverpool fans will let you know that he's one of their best players, but I'm really starting to believe that he's probably their most important player," Jake said.
"Purely because he's so unique. Since he's joined the club (in the summer of 2015), he's won 158 tackles, which is double the amount Coutinho won, who also played that pressing style. And it's the same amount as Jordan Henderson, who is their holding midfielder, and in the team to win tackles. He's also got 55 interceptions as well. So, combined he's up there as the most defensive forward in the league.
"But, he's also scored the most goals, and got the most assists for Liverpool in the Premier League, since he joined the club. I'm starting to think that, despite how many goals Mo Salah is scoring this season, the role that Firmino plays couldn't be played by anyone else, and I'm in the camp of he's their most important player."
Firmino's incredible work-rate was also highlighted on the show. "They only had 35 percent possession, so they obviously had to work hard, and Liverpool out-sprinted City," Oliver said.
"They completed 674 sprints as a team, compared to City's 640, and Firmino completed 82 of those. He's just a machine. He does all that running, but he can still score an absolute worldie."
The Brazilian was the trigger for Liverpool's high-pressing style, he relentlessly hunted after the ball, and never gave City's defenders a moment's rest when in possession. However, when he won the ball, he was creative and intelligent, and played a role in Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain's opener early in the first-half when he won possession from Fabian Delph.
It's difficult to imagine Klopp's team functioning as well without him.