Why Jurgen Klopp Must Drop This Underperforming Liverpool Star
It was telling that Roberto Firmino was watching on from the substitutes' bench as his replacement, Divock Origi, was hooking home a last-gasp winner during Liverpool's derby win against Everton on Sunday afternoon.
Firmino has been a shadow of the player who plundered 27 goals during the 2017/18 campaign as he has scored a paltry five goals in 20 appearances so far and Reds boss Jurgen Klopp opted to replace the misfiring forward with Origi during the latter stages of the game. It proved to be an inspired decision.
The Merseyside derby represented the ninth successive match that Firmino has failed to score at Anfield and the Brazilian looks like he needs a rest following a testing period that has seen him play in high-pressure Premier League, Champions League and World Cup games.
In fact, Firmino has only scored seven goals in 34 appearances for club and country since notching a brace in Liverpool's enthralling 5-2 win against Roma in the Champions League back in April. Since then, the 27-year-old struggled to make an impression at the World Cup as Brazil preferred the ineffective Gabriel Jesus to lead the line in Russia and the new Premier League season has done little to lift Firmino's spirits.
Firmino has only managed three goals in fourteen Premier League appearances, scoring just once since September, and averaging a top-flight goal every 364 minutes on average.
It has been a struggle for the forward to adapt to Klopp's new 4-2-3-1 formation - the player himself seems so much more effective in a 4-3-3 set-up - and, with winnable league games against Burnley and Bournemouth coming up before a win-or-bust Champions League clash with Napoli, now seems like a perfect time to rest Firmino.
Liverpool are hardly overflowing with options though as Divock Origi is waiting in the wings following his goalscoring heroics, although he has little game-time under his belt, while Daniel Sturridge is keen to impress following his own difficult start to the campaign.
There is no doubt that Firmino could do with a break though as he played 62 games for club and country during the 2017/18 campaign - Mo Salah played 56 and Sadio Mane 54 during the same period - and he has already played 24 games this season. At the same stage last year, Firmino had scored 11 goals in his 24 outings.
The Brazilian will come good again but this week represents an ideal chance for Klopp to take him out of the firing line.