It has been a historic Premier League season for Liverpool.
The Reds are, at long last, champions of England, after a record-breaking campaign that saw Jurgen Klopp's men finish with 99 points.
But for one of Klopp's star players, it could be argued that it was a a more medial one. Certainly from a performance point of view.
Roberto Firmino is an elite player, there's no question about that. However he does tend to split opinions.
No matter whether you really like him, or don’t particularly rate him, your opinion is most likely formed on the basis of what attributes you value most in a striker.
Fans of the 28-year-old will tell you that he is integral to the Liverpool attack. This is because within Klopp’s side, the Brazilian wears the no.9, but plays more like a no.10. Acting as an advanced pivot, he often drops in between the lines, proving to be more of a facilitator than goal-getter. Yet it's a lack of scoring, particularly this year, that has opened the door for the sceptics.
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Across the previous season in the Premier League, Firmino scored nine league goals. That’s not a terrible return on paper. However, 25 Premier League players could better that tally. Furthermore, that total looks rather low when compared to his accumulated league Expected Goal (xG) of 13.48 for the campaign.
What this means in basic terms is that the Liverpool forward scored around 3.5 goals fewer than what would have been expected based on the chances created for him. For an elite player, that’s a fairly notable underperformance.
So what has caused it, is it bad luck or something more? Well based on his xG and the below shot map, he continues to get himself in good shooting locations.
As we can see, Firmino has taken plenty of good shots from good locations in and around the penalty area.
However, when we adjust the shot map to highlight how many of those shots actually hit the target, then we see the issue. By his standards, the Brazilian hasn’t been very accurate.
This point is further reiterated when we look at his combined Post-Shot xG (PSxG) total which notably drops to 10.26. A reminder that PSxG takes into consideration factors after the shot has been taken - things such as shot trajectory and power.
What we can conclude then is that Firmino’s shot execution has been one of the key contributing factors behind him failing to convert more of those decent goal scoring chances this season.
The above doesn’t make him a bad forward, and he still brings a host of qualities to Liverpool that are not easily quantified in just numbers.
However, there’s no doubt he will be eager to reintroduce more precision into his finishing next season.
After all, last season was Firmino's lowest tally of league goals in his Liverpool career and based on his returns from previous seasons, you can expect he'll start converting more chances next term.
And that's an exciting prospect for Liverpool.
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