JAMIE REDKNAPP: Selfless Roberto Firmino is the perfect No 9

JAMIE REDKNAPP: Selfless Roberto Firmino is the perfect No 9… plus find out who makes my team of the week

  • Roberto Firmino’s goal drought should not overshadow his role to Liverpool
  • Billy Gilmour made it look so easy for Chelsea in their win over Everton 
  • Dwight McNeil showed he is a class act and a top English prospect for Burnley 
  • Meanwhile, Robbie Fowler is doing a great job Down Under with Brisbane Roar 

Liverpool are cruising to their first championship in 30 years and Saturday’s victory over Bournemouth was their 22nd consecutive home win — a new record in the English top flight.

And yet, amid all this, their No 9, Roberto Firmino, has not scored a single goal at Anfield in 2019-20. How remarkable is that?

Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane have contributed 16 and 10 in all competitions by comparison, and this highlights two things. It shows the way the Premier League champions elect to use Firmino as a link-up man and also the importance of the modern-day winger’s ability to get goals and assists.

Roberto Firmino’s goal drought should not overshadow his crucial role to Liverpool

I spoke to Frank Lampard about this at Chelsea’s training ground recently. Frank told me he’d been speaking with Callum Hudson-Odoi and said he’d told the 19-year-old: ‘Look around, at Mane, at Salah, and ask why they are racking up numbers. If you want to play as a winger at a top club, you have to get numbers.’

Then Hudson-Odoi scores a tap-in against Burnley by arriving at the back post, and Frank tells me it’s probably his favourite goal this season! Why? Because his wide man was there, getting in the box at Turf Moor.

Right now there is an onus on wingers to do that. That is the way the game has evolved, and Liverpool are at the forefront of this. Firmino comes short for the ball, creates space for others, connects attacks and creates opportunities for his team-mates who love to come inside.

Sadio Mane (L) and Mo Salah (R) have scored the goals and epitomise the modern day winger

They don’t stay stranded out wide, and we saw that against Bournemouth on Saturday. Mane won possession centrally off of Jack Simpson before playing the ball to Salah, who made up for a poor pass by scoring anyway to make it 1-1.

For the winner, Virgil van Dijk made an interception on the halfway line and played a through-ball into Mane, who was central again. He then beat Aaron Ramsdale from the one on one.

Jurgen Klopp will recognise the job that Firmino is doing, too, even if he isn’t the one banging in the goals at Anfield himself. The Brazilian is the modern No 9 — selfless, and not purely relied upon for scoring. He is the focal point of Klopp’s 4-3-3 system.

It was important for Liverpool to get back to winning ways after a small blip in performances

After their mini-blip, it was important for Liverpool to get back to winning ways ahead of Wednesday’s Champions League showdown with Atletico Madrid.

Having captain Jordan Henderson back in midfield could be big, because he is so good at setting the tempo for the team.

We know Liverpool are going to win the Premier League. It’s only a matter of time before that is confirmed. But this European encounter is huge. If they are to turn things around against Diego Simeone’s Atletico, then everyone will need to be at it.

Let’s see if they can make it another special Anfield night.

Dwight McNeil is a class act. The Burnley 20-year-old was head and shoulders above anyone in midfield at Turf Moor.

He has a great engine, excellent control and a cultured left foot. Sean Dyche deserves credit for the way he has moulded him. 

Maybe he has flown under the radar amid the attention on Mason Mount, James Maddison, Jack Grealish et al. But this kid deserves highlighting, too.

Dwight McNeil showed on Saturday evening he is a class act and a top English prospect

Watch out for Eberechi Eze, QPR’s 21-year-old attacking midfielder. 

The Championship club have done a tremendous job of nurturing him, and I suspect we’ll see him in the Premier League sooner rather than later. 

From what I hear, he has plenty of admirers already. Rightly so, too, because Eze clearly has that star quality. 

Another talented player to watch out for Eberechi Eze of QPR, who clearly has star quality

It seems Liverpool’s strength stretches all the way to Australia, too, because Robbie Fowler’s Brisbane Roar are unbeaten at their Suncorp Stadium in 2020. 

I have great admiration for my old mate Robbie, because he’s gone to the other side of the world to get going in management. It wasn’t an easy job to take, either. Brisbane finished second bottom in Australia’s A-League last season. 

Then Robbie took over. After a slow start, they’re now fifth, and have lost only twice in their last 11. It would be great to see him over here someday but there is plenty of time for that. 

Only a handful of Premier League managers are younger than the 44-year-old, such as Frank Lampard, 41, and Eddie Howe, 42. Right now things are going well for Robbie in Australia. I know how desperate he was to become a coach, and I’m so pleased it’s working out for him. 

Meanwhile, Robbie Fowler is doing a great job Down Under with A-league side Brisbane Roar

I have a lot of admiration for my friend Robbie and I’m so pleased it is working out for him

Think of the greatest Premier League escapes and what comes to mind? Portsmouth in 2006, when my dad, Harry, led Pompey to safety after being eight points adrift with 10 games to go? 

West Ham a year later when Carlos Tevez helped them stay up at the expense of Sheffield United? Or Leicester under Nigel Pearson in 2015.

If Norwich can claw their way to safety now it would be the greatest of escapes. Their clash with Southampton next week is a must, must, must win. 

We’ve seen some great Premier League escapes and Norwich will be the greatest if they do it

You would not have known that was Billy Gilmour’s first Premier League start on Sunday. 

This 18-year-old kid has a fantastic habit of picking the right pass and finding space in a packed midfield. 

I know Frank Lampard has been so impressed by Gilmour in training since he promoted him to his first-team squad and has been itching to give him his chance. He made everything look easy. 

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