Squad numbers can appear to be superfluous nowadays. They ought not, and not on account of a few players have co-selected them beneficially into an individual brand. All the more applicably, they can mean something, characterizing obligations and influencing footballers to some portion of a tradition for club or nation.
Manchester United and Liverpool both got another No. 9 the previous summer, a renowned shirt going to various players in various ways. Joined united through £75 million on Romelu Lukaku. Liverpool moved Roberto Firmino from No. 11 after the landing of Mohamed Salah. For each situation, there felt something cognizant in the basic leadership: Lukaku wore 10 for Everton however was given the middle forward’s number, despite the fact that Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who had worn it, would in this way be re-marked. Firmino took a number that had been abandoned by Christian Benteke, a man he dislodged.
They meet on Sunday as customary No. 9 and false nine, speaking to two differentiating strategies and clashing strands of thought. Firmino fits Liverpool’s liquid arrangement, Lukaku United’s somewhat more static approach. The Brazilian encapsulates Jurgen Klopp’s logic. The Belgian follows in a long queue of sizeable focus advances Jose Mourinho has sent. It is difficult to envision either being as critical for the other chief, yet contrary energies sit next to each other in the scoring diagrams: Firmino has 22 objectives, 13 in the Premier League; Lukaku has 23, 14 in the best flight.
They have conveyed in disparate styles. They are the pioneer of the line and the pioneer of the squeezing diversion individually, the customary target man and the new-style striker who isn’t generally a striker. Lukaku works as the most exceptional man in the forward line, Firmino in the focal point of a reversed front three where Salah and Sadio Mane frequently progress past him.
The numbers represent their disparities. Lukaku has more shots per diversion and more on objective. He wins, by and large, three fold the number of headers as Firmino. He makes more clearances, an indication of his work protecting set pieces in his own particular box. He is offside more. Without seeing him play, the figures offer abundant signs he is a tall, speedy master striker with a savage streak.
Firmino’s are by and large extraordinary. He midpoints more passes per diversion, with a higher finishing rate. He makes a greater amount of what WhoScored term “key passes”. He makes much more handles per diversion, 1.8 to 0.2. He is a greater amount of an inside and out footballer; “different groups can … utilize him as a nine or a 10 or they’ll utilize him out on the wings,” Klopp said a week ago. Maybe the issue Brendan Rodgers had was that a player with an expansive range of abilities may do not have a characterizing characteristic. It offered the conversation starter of what, unequivocally, Firmino was.
Klopp was quick to give an answer: Firmino has been both the scourge of the striker – seeing off both Benteke and Daniel Sturridge – and Liverpool’s 21st-century form of a middle forward. Lukaku fits to a greater extent a twentieth century write.
However alternate extremes have floated towards each other a bit. Lukaku has showed signs of improvement at demonstrating a benevolent streak, the change in his play outside the punishment zone reflected by the truth he has as of now equalled his vocation best of six aids a Premier League season; he has two months to set another marker. Firmino’s change is more unstable and more self-evident.
Last season, Lukaku scored more than twice the same number of objectives, 26 to 12. Presently their private rivalry is significantly more equivalent. Firmino has 15 objectives in his previous 20 begins. He has spanned the goalscoring bay between them, offering an articulate response to the worn out contention that Liverpool require a pro striker. He has joined Ian Rush, Robbie Fowler and Fernando Torres in conveying 20 objectives in a season wearing the No. 9; he may yet imitate them in achieving 30.
Lukaku is the fourth United forward in the squad number to achieve 20, after Andy Cole, Dimitar Berbatov and Ibrahimovic. None has gone ahead to 30. He can contend he has carried a greater weight than Firmino, and not simply as a result of the desire created by his sticker price and productive past. He doesn’t have Salah close by. Firmino has been in the Egyptian’s slipstream. Lukaku has conveyed a higher level of his club’s objectives.
He does, however, have less in marquee matches. Firmino has seven in the Champions League and others against Arsenal and Manchester City. Rewind to the beginning of his Liverpool profession, and his remiss first strike came against City and the following two to Arsenal’s detriment. He was the defining moment pro whose objectives went away on lesser events. Lukaku was his inverse: he had just five out of 41 recreations against England’s main six preceding a month ago’s strike against Chelsea. The level track spook label still waits.
Firmino has gone further to disprove the reactions. His newly discovered strength, other than recommending he should sneak on to the waitlist for the PFA Player of the Year grant, speaks to a notice to the one-dimensional finisher: in the event that he can contribute everything else he does and top 20 objectives, it is awful news for the punishment box poacher. Agreeable to Mourinho, Lukaku has added more to his arsenal this season, however when Firmino is relatively coordinating him objective for objective, it is a sign he is beating him.