Liverpool forward Roberto Firmino often has to play second fiddle to Philippe Coutinho as the star turn at Anfield, but the Brazil international is more than proving his worth in his own way.
The 26-year-old’s two goals in the 5-0 drubbing of bottom side Swansea took his tally for the season to 16 for the campaign having scored nine in his last nine matches, scoring twice on three occasions during that time.
He is a crucial cog in Jurgen Klopp’s game plan – keeping a bona fide striker like Daniel Sturridge out of the team – as, although Coutinho provides the creativity, his compatriot provides the clever running and unrelenting work-rate which creates not only chances for himself but his team-mates.
That was typified midway through the first half against the Swans when a rare moment of poor control saw the ball trickle out for a throw-in. Within seconds Firmino had won it back from the restart to launch a counter-attack.
“I appreciate Roberto’s effort and performance always,” said Klopp.
“I am happy that he scored twice, but I could not say how many he has scored so far in the season because I feel he is always involved and always in and around the dangerous situations for the opponents.
“In the first half he was right full-back, he was left full-back, he was everywhere.
“At the end he scored two goals so that’s nice, very nice. I am happy for all the boys when they score.
“It will be easy to score like the second goal of Roberto (a tap in into an open goal after Mohamed Salah’s unselfish pass).
“Probably you (the media) could of scored this. Maybe I could have scored this.”
Since Klopp arrived at Anfield in October 2015, Firmino has been one of the most – if not the most – improved player.
The Brazilian was something of an enigma under predecessor Brendan Rodgers, who did not really know how to use a player who came to Anfield as an attacking midfielder from Hoffenheim for £29million in the summer.
Often played on the right, Firmino’s influence was negated and he did not score in the seven matches he played for Rodgers before getting injured.
Within a month of returning to fitness, with Rodgers now sacked, Firmino was scoring his first goal for the club in the 4-1 win at Manchester City and well on his way to becoming Klopp’s preferred central attacker.
In the former Borussia Dortmund coach’s 128 matches in charge, Firmino has scored the most goals (39) for the club, two more than Coutinho who gets far more attention, and made 25 assists.
His goals against Swansea meant he scored in three successive Premier League matches for the first time and his 16 goals this season is by far his best tally for the club.
That is five behind top scorer Salah, with Coutinho up to 12 after his superb opener. The only surprise is the tally for Sadio Mane (seven) who, after being affected by injury and suspension, looks low on confidence.
The fact the goals are being spread out means it is not a worry for Klopp.
“They will all score. Sadio didn’t play but he will score if we play like this, if we bring the different players in the different moments in the different situations,” he added.
“If we play like we play in our good moments then the boys will be in good situations.”