It was pretty obvious that Roberto Firmino was missing something in the Liverpool attack since the turn of the year. If it wasn’t Philippe Coutinho struggling to get back up to speed following his ankle injury, it was Sadio Mane’s absence as he represented Senegal at the Africa Cup of Nations. Now, they’re not back to their best quite yet, but watching the trio work as they took apart both Tottenham Hotspur and North London rivals Arsenal suggests they’re on the right path.
“Sadio and Philippe are exceptional players and quite unique in their ways,” Firmino told the Liverpool ECHO. “With excellent players like that I know what they are going to do before they get the ball. We will all carry on giving our absolute all to keep improving and being the best that we can be,” added the Brazilian, suggesting an almost telepathic understanding between the Liverpool front line. “The objective of the season is to finish in the top four to be able to play in the Champions League.”
That, of course, is the goal and after downing the Gunners at the weekend to reclaim the coveted fourth spot in the table, it’s been the rallying cry of the entire Liverpool squad. Firmino opened the scoring and Mane added a second before the end of the first half, but the introduction of Arsenal attacker Alexis Sanchez at the break spurred an immediate impact as the Chilean set up Danny Welbeck to turn what looked to be a rout waiting to happen into a real contest — that is, until Adam Lallana expertly held up play before feeding Divock Origi. The Belgian’s run down the wing was a textbook perfection and his cross for Georginio Wijnaldum — who has a real knack for scoring when it matters — was just as good as the Dutchman put the result beyond question.
“It’s great for the team and it’s really good news for him to be able to carry on playing and helping us on the pitch,” said Firmino when asked about Lallana’s contract extension. “He’s an excellent player and a key element in the team,” added the Reds attacker, full of praise for the former Southampton captain. “He always helps with our defensive work and makes excellent runs to support the attack too so it’s really great news that he will be staying with Liverpool for the next few years.”