Nedum Onuoha has described Bobby Firmino as a ‘unique’ No.9 ahead of Liverpool’s upcoming Premier League clash with his former club, Manchester City.
The Brazilian had started the season soundly with a goal from the bench against Daniel Farke’s returned Norwich City outfit, before injury ruled him out for the Reds’ Champions League opener and a couple of league fixtures.
“The way Firmino plays, he is very unique. Not many 9s play like that in the Premier League,” the 34-year-old told The Friday Night Football Social on BBC Radio 5 Live (via HITC).
The 30-year-old had been the target of severe criticism, alongside fellow attacker Sadio Mane, last term for a perceived drop-off in form.
It seems harsh to criticise a player who, for some time, our system entirely revolved around, however, the reality is that it was Mo Salah who was largely left with the responsibility of keeping our top four hopes alive last season.
Firmino did post some reasonable numbers, though certainly not enough to overlook his waning influence on our successes.
Of course, it’s worth pointing out that such a ‘drop-off’ occurred amidst long-term injuries to Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez – not to mention the sporadic sidelining of the like of Fabinho, Diogo Jota, Thiago Alcantara and Jordan Henderson – which would have undoubtedly had an impact on our structure.
At the very least, the availability of a more or less full-strength Liverpool side will be telling in terms of how far the former Hoffenheim frontman’s dip was related to key injuries.