Firmino Targets End To Goal Drought As Liverpool Face Leicester
Roberto Firmino will seek to end a rare goal drought when Liverpool take on Leicester although his manager Jurgen Klopp has no concerns about a drop-off in productivity.
The Brazil international has formed one of the most feared forward lines in European football over the past 12 months with Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane.
And the 26-year-old, signed for £29 million ($38 million) from Hoffenheim three years ago, has continued his excellent form in Liverpool’s 100 per cent start to the campaign — three victories and three clean sheets in as many games.
Yet despite scoring 27 times for last season, Firmino is still looking for his first goal of the new campaign even though Liverpool are the early Premier League pacesetters.
The forward has not scored in eight games for Klopp’s side and in the Premier League has one goal in his past 10 appearances, a run that dates back to March.
But Firmino’s selfless running has been singled out as one of the reasons Salah looks capable of continuing the prodigious production of last season, when he scored 44 times for Klopp in all competitions.
The Liverpool boss says there is no sense of a World Cup hangover for Firmino, whose Brazil side exited the tournament at the quarter-final stage.
“He had two weeks pre-season, which is quite short for a player who needs his physical fitness as much as Roberto does but I’m completely happy,” said Klopp.
“After two weeks’ preparation and a Brazilian holiday he is much sharper and fitter than I would have expected. It is exactly how it should be in this moment and he can improve, like we all can improve.”
Along with his mobility, Firmino’s eye for a killer pass has not been dulled by his exertions in Russia.
His superbly timed pass against Brighton last week played in Salah, who scored the game’s only goal as Liverpool moved to the top of the Premier League table for the first time in nearly two years.
Klopp has stressed that Liverpool need to improve despite the 1-0 win, and the German must decide whether to name an unchanged starting line-up for the fourth consecutive game at the King Power Stadium on Saturday.
Central defender Dejan Lovren, a World Cup finalist, is pushing for a return, although the impressive form of youngster Joe Gomez may mean that the Croatian faces another afternoon on the bench at Leicester.
With Liverpool’s front three selecting themselves, Klopp has to decide on his midfield line-up — England’s Jordan Henderson has been unable to secure a starting place so far.
Liverpool’s defence, boosted by the arrival of Brazilian keeper Alisson, has yet to concede and has the added advantage of not having to face Jamie Vardy, who announced his retirement from the England national team this week, due to suspension.