Support our independent LFC content & go advert-free.
LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, August 27, 2022: Liverpool's Roberto Firmino (R) celebrates with team-mate Luis Díaz after scoring the fourth goal during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and AFC Bournemouth at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Why Firmino’s “rebirth” could be far more valuable than 9 goals for Liverpool

Saturday’s game against Bournemouth had a strange but reassuring aura to it long before kick-off, but the trick for Liverpool now is to take that same level of ruthless intent into their upcoming fixtures, too.

We were all looking for a positive response from the sluggish and potentially damaging nature of that opening trio of games, and it’s fair to say that we got it with added interest, as Scott Parker and his team came to Anfield bearing gifts.

An unsettling early start to the campaign, the Community Shield taking place in Leicester, and being handed a couple of Monday night games, added to by the adverse results we’ve surprisingly experienced, meant the first few weeks of the new season just hadn’t felt ‘football’ enough to my senses.

A sunshine enveloped Saturday towards the end of August and a 3pm kick-off at Anfield – this automatically had the vibe of the real opening day of the season, when making my approach to the ground.

Against Crystal Palace, most of the familiar pre-match faces I usually see were not in attendance, due to a combination of people still indulging in holidays or skimming in late on for various reasons. 30 years of the Premier League and all that garbage, but Monday night will never be a suitable place for football.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, August 27, 2022: Liverpool's goalkeeper Alisson Becker walks out before the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and AFC Bournemouth at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Regardless of what lay in store against Bournemouth, the carefree meander to this game felt like a much-needed reconnection of sorts, and then we were delivered nine goals by the men in red, without reply from our beleaguered visitors.

This game was won within six minutes, as a Luis Diaz header and a rasper of a Harvey Elliott effort found their way past a badly exposed Mark Travers, a man who now becomes the new Perry Suckling.

Publicly, Jurgen Klopp had tried to temper talk of frustration, but here were the actions of a team that clearly felt there was a point to prove to themselves.

Strong words had been proffered by the Liverpool manager to his players in the days following defeat at Old Trafford and the effect was an immensely positive one.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, August 27, 2022: Liverpool's Virgil van Dijk celebrates after scoring the fifth goal during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and AFC Bournemouth at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

This wasn’t even a day where everything Liverpool tried came off, as they wouldn’t have been flattered had they departed the pitch with 14 or 15 goals.

Mo Salah bewildered to end a game without a goal to call his own, or even an assist, on a day when his team-mates had almost hit double-figures.

Understandable parallels were drawn to a game from almost 33 years ago, when a Kenny Dalglish led Liverpool swept Crystal Palace aside by a scoreline of 9-0. I was there that night, too.

What they subsequently did back then, was go back out on to the Anfield turf a few days later only to be held to a goalless draw by Norwich City.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, August 27, 2022: Liverpool's Roberto Firmino celebrates after scoring the fourth goal during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and AFC Bournemouth at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Beware the lingering glow of your own brilliance, as it can blind you sometimes. I’ll take Salah being denied goals and assists during a turkey-shoot of a game if he takes it out on the very next opponents, those opponents being the newly minted and emboldened Newcastle United.

Salah’s frustrations aside – which he seemed to take within the best of nature – this was a day when every Liverpool player involved contributed something to the cause, but none more so than Bobby Firmino, as he played an active role in six of the seven goals that his team scored while he was on the pitch.

According to Klopp, he had been happy with Firmino’s contribution against Man United, but it was an undeniable fact that he hadn’t found his way into dangerous positions often enough.

This was remedied most emphatically on Saturday as he seemed to operate without the constraints of overt tactical discipline. The best of Firmino always comes when he is allowed a certain sense of autonomy.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, August 27, 2022: Liverpool's Luis Díaz scores the seventh goal during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and AFC Bournemouth at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Utterly instinctive and with an often-under-acknowledged gameplay intelligence, when on form, Firmino is unstoppable. He is a unique player who offers a whimsical answer to finding himself in the tightest of spots, in turn creating acres of space elsewhere for grateful teammates.

He brings something that nobody else does and if this performance brings with it a rebirth of his faltering Liverpool career, then it will be far more valuable to the club than the nine goals his team scored on Saturday.

Many Reds watchers – and indeed those on the outside looking in – had long surmised that Firmino might have moved on during the summer, and had Sadio Mane not decided to seek pastures new, he could well have done so. Now, though, he has the chance to make himself indispensable to Klopp once again.

One game does not make a resurrection, but it can act as the foundation for Firmino to rise in prominence once again.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, August 27, 2022: Liverpool's Roberto Firmino (R) celebrates with team-mate Luis Díaz after scoring the fourth goal during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and AFC Bournemouth at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

With Salah still looking for his range, Darwin Nunez on a steep learning curve, and Diogo Jota still absent, we need a stable and consistent hero within that front three, one who can take some of the pressure off the excellent Diaz.

There were other heroes on Saturday. Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson were back into creative mode, while without much in the way of defensive duties to speak of, Virgil van Dijk could have scored more than the one he claimed for himself, as Bournemouth’s defence melted away at every set-piece.

There were also marvellous cameo contributions from Fabio Carvalho and Kostas Tsimikas, plus the bonus of time on the pitch in the Premier League for Stefan Bajcetic and Bobby Clark.

Saturday was good for the collective soul, but now we will see if Liverpool can brush aside the travails of those first three games and use it as the true opening day of their season.

More from This Is Anfield

Fan Comments