Firmino ready to fire Liverpool up the table, starting at Chelsea

Plying his trade in the Brazilian second division Figueirense FC some five seasons ago, a young Roberto Firmino could only have dreamt of playing in Germany’s top flight for Hoffenheim, and later with Liverpool.

Although his development to midfield goal scoring supremo would not be instantaneous, the work rate Firmino has showed his coaches from an early stage at the Bundesliga club belied any preconceived notions of a fancy-dan Brazilian with no cares for the tougher side of the game.

It was that work rate, coupled with a persistence to integrate in German life that led to Firmino becoming one of the Bundesliga’s most feared players, and secured a move to Anfield.

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Joining the Reds this summer Firmino was celebrated by fans as a massive coup, for Liverpool have all too often missed out on mercurial talents throughout Europe, settling for second-tier talent, or pure youth which only lends itself to false hope of potential.

It has not gone to plan yet however, with the youngster finding life on Merseyside tough so far. After spending the summer as the Copa America, Firmino joined Liverpool late, lacking match sharpness, and perhaps more pertinently, joined a Liverpool mean who still lacked the fluency in attack of their famous 2013/14 season.

It soon went from bad to worse, as he suffered a back injury which would keep him out for several weeks. While out injured all he could do was sit back and watch his floundering side draw game after game. All he could do was witness a poor run of form which, eventually, saw the man who brought him to the club in Brendan Rodgers hastily given his P45.

Nevertheless, having now began to settle under the new man in charge at Anfield in Jurgen Klopp, Firmino is beginning to look like the player Liverpool fans hoped they had signed in the summer. Facing Chelsea on Saturday’s early-kick off, Firmino can be key to Liverpool, and anyone playing fantasy football.

Firmino received the man of the match award in Liverpool’s midweek fixture against Bournemouth in the Capital One Cup, and is in line for his first Premier League start under Klopp tomorrow. His goal scoring prowess looks close to flourishing at Liverpool, which could be a huge worry for Jose Mourinho’s men.

Remember, Chelsea have conceded 19 goals this season. They conceded their 20th goal last season on January 31st against Manchester City (via stats.com). Firmino has the ability to exploit such a porous backline: he scored 16 goals and assisted 11 times for Hoffenheim in the Bundesliga in 2013/14 season from an attacking midfield position.

Such proficiency in front of goal from an attacking midfielder – essentially a player playing in the same area of the pitch as David Silva – is nothing short of staggering. That haul of 16 goals and 11 assists equated to a direct contribution to a goal every 116 minutes. Refreshed under a new manager who knows his talents at a new club, Firmino looks ready to reproduce such form again, now for Liverpool.

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Trevor Keane is an Irish based sports writer and the author of Gaffers, 50 years of Irish Managers and Running through Walls, the Dave Langan Story.