Jamie Carragher explains why Roberto Firmino is “the first name on the teamsheet” at Liverpool after their entertaining win over Manchester City.
Liverpool brought City’s unbeaten domestic run crashing to an end with a scintillating 4-3 victory at Anfield on Sunday.
Sensational goals from Firmino, Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah in nine, devastating second-half minutes saw Liverpool become the first British side to beat Pep Guardiola’s men since Arsenal in the FA Cup last April.
Carragher had special praise for Brazilian striker Firmino, who he feels does not get the praise his high-level performances have merited.
“Firmino is one of the most underrated players in the Premier League – he’s highly rated by Jurgen Klopp but outside Liverpool he’s not mentioned when talked about top strikers,” he said.
“He’s got 17 goals this season – he’s the first name on the teamsheet. Yes, you’ve got Salah and Mane, but Firmino’s hold-up play and work off the ball makes him one of the best attacking players in the Premier League. He’s a top player.”
Firmino suffered the disappointment of Philippe Coutinho moving to La Liga giants Barcelona in a £146m deal last week as the much-heralded ‘Fab Four’ lost a key member.
However, Coutinho was not missed against City and, according to Carragher, this result will go a long way to ending the debate about whether or not Liverpool should have fought harder to keep him.
“Selling Coutinho was Klopp’s decision not the owners – he’s a man of his conviction,” said Carragher.
“He’s made a big decision.
“We’ll know at the end of the season whether it’s right or wrong, in terms of where Liverpool finish and if they win something. That result was a big statement – to get that result, it’s a big thing going forward. People certainly won’t be mentioning Coutinho over the next couple of weeks.”
It was not all plain sailing at Anfield for Jurgen Klopp’s men as late goals from Bernardo Silva and Ilkay Gundogan set up a tense finale, and Sergio Aguero headed a late chance wide as Liverpool held on to avenge September’s 5-0 thumping at the hands of City.
That late wobble mirrored their defensive collapse against Sevilla in the Champions League earlier this season where they threw away a 3-0 lead to end up drawing 3-3.
Carragher admits defensively Klopp’s side are not comfortable at seeing out a game when in front.
“Liverpool aren’t very good at soaking up pressure – they need to keep going, keep attacking,” he said.
“City had four shots on target and scored three goals – every time you watch Liverpool in these high-scoring games the actual shots on target they concede isn’t that many.
“How often does a Liverpool goalkeeper make a save you don’t expect? When they save the team? That rarely happens. If you said before the game that City would only have four shots on target, Jurgen Klopp would have taken that – that’s what’s happened, but they scored three goals!”