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Liverpool’s man in the shadows proves he is irreplaceable after Salah heroics

Despite Mo Salah stealing the headlines with another stunning display at Watford on Saturday, Roberto Firmino proved once again why he is invaluable to this Liverpool team

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In pictures: Liverpool hammer Watford

While Mo Salah lapped up the plaudits following his stunning solo strike against Watford on Saturday, Liverpool’s man in the shadows once again proved his worth.

Roberto Firmino netted three to become the first Brazilian to hit multiple hat-tricks in the Premier League, but even that wasn’t enough to steal the headlines away from Salah.

However, for Firmino, you get the impression that doesn’t really matter.

For so long the Brazilian creator has seemed to glide under the radar in a Liverpool front three that has dazzled and demolished over the past four years, with Sadio Mane and Salah often held in higher esteem.



Roberto Firmino proved why he is instrumental to this Liverpool team
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Image:

John Powell/Liverpool FC via Getty Images)




But on Saturday, Firmino once again proved just how instrumental he is to this Liverpool team who maintained their unbeaten start to the season and continued to set more records.

The 5-0 mauling of Watford means the Reds have scored three or more goals in all six away games in all competitions so far this season, something no other English top-flight side has ever managed.

With the threatening front three firing on all cylinders once again, Liverpool are going to take some stopping this season.









And Firmino’s part in that is pivotal.

In fact, following this weekend’s exploits, Firmino has now netted six times in a mere 237 minutes of action so far this season, the best goals per 90 minutes ratio of any striker in Europe’s top leagues, ahead of even Erling Haaland and Robert Lewandowski.

The arrival of Diogo Jota in September of 2020 appeared to signal the beginning of the end for Firmino at Anfield and with a hamstring injury hampering opportunities at the start of this season, it looked as though a possible January departure could even be on the cards.

Does Roberto Firmino get the recognition he deserves for Liverpool? Have your say in the comments.



Roberto Firmino became the first Brazilian player to score two Premier League hat-tricks
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Image:

Justin Setterfield/Getty Images)




However, 30-year-old Firmino has proven in recent weeks that he still has so much to offer in this rampant Liverpool side.

While Salah and Mane offer pace and unpredictability, Firmino brings a calm and calculated degree of creativity to the team, consistently demonstrating an under-appreciated intelligence on the pitch.

From the outside, some will argue Firmino netted a hat-trick of simple tap-ins at Vicarage Road on Saturday but his triple was so much more than that.









The Brazilian’s clever movement and impeccable sense of positioning meant Liverpool’s number 9 continuously evaded the Watford defence throughout the 90 minutes and caused constant havoc.

As the Hornets swarmed towards James Milner on the left, Firmino cleverly peeled off Danny Rose to tap home his first – and Liverpool’s second – on Saturday.

The Brazilian once again found himself reacting sharpest for his second, while Watford’s static defence were caught ball-watching once more, pouncing as Ben Foster spilt the ball following a deflected interception.



Mo Salah tends to grab all the headlines for Liverpool
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Image:

Justin Setterfield/Getty Images)




A second hat-trick in Liverpool colours – his other coming against Arsenal in 2018 – was then secured in added on time as the wily Firmino this time peeled away from Jeremy Ngakia at the back post to guide in a fifth for Jurgen Klopp’s men.

While the hapless Hornets looked frantic in their attempts to ensure Claudio Ranieri’s reign as manager started on a high, Firmino cut a relaxed and composed figure, playing the match with an effortless ease.

His ability to see space and link up play offers something different to Mane, Salah and Jota, something priceless for manager Klopp.









After enduring a below-par campaign last time out in which he only managed to find the net nine times in 48 appearances, Firmino already looks back to his best this time round.

While form is temporary, class is permanent. And Firmino simply oozes the stuff.

With the mouth-watering prospect of a trip to Old Trafford to face a stuttering Manchester United up next in the league, in a fixture Firmino netted twice in last season, you wouldn’t bet against the Brazilian bagging once again.


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