Roberto Firmino, Liverpool’s £29m summer signing from Hoffenheim, had a slow start to his Premier League career. He was in and out of the first eleven and never started more than three consecutive games until his current run of nine starts began on December 20.
In the first half of the season, Firmino scored just one goal. Now he has scored five more – all in the last five matches. Since his brace against Arsenal a month ago, more than 550,000 Fantasy Premier League managers have added Firmino to their teams and his price has risen by 0.5m.
The consistency of starts appears to have benefited the Brazilian international. Firmino only failed to register a shot in the first game of his current run. Furthermore, his shooting statistics over the course of the season show a nice balance and are consistent with a midfielder who has been playing up front a lot of the time.
Over those last nine gameweeks, Firmino has been in the top five among midfielders in all the shooting metrics shown in the chart, apart from shots inside the box (where he is seventh). However, during that same period, his shots on target conversion rate has been 56 per cent, which is right at the top end of what is sustainable for a season. If we look back at just the last five gameweeks, when he scored all but one of this goals, Firmino’s shots on target conversion rate has been running at 83 per cent.
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As noted before, Firmino’s statistics for the season are now fairly well balanced so the recent goals could be viewed as regression to the mean. While I doubt that Firmino will continue for long to convert shots on target at the rate we have seen recently, he may also steer clear of the barren spells he experienced early in his Liverpool career. The Brazilian is also a balanced player in that he creates a good number of chances for his team mates and they have been taking those opportunities at a rate that exceeds the league average.
Jürgen Klopp does appear to favour Firmino as a forward ahead of Christian Benteke at present, but if Daniel Sturridge is truly back from injury and available for selection that could pose a conundrum for the Reds’ boss.
Liverpool have a nice fixture against Aston Villa, then a blank Gameweek 27 followed by games against Manchester City and Crystal Palace. They could face another blank in Gameweek 30 if Chelsea beat Manchester City in the FA Cup fifth round. FPL managers who own Firmino and can field 11 players in Gameweek 27 may want to hold on to him through the blank, but those without the Brazilian might prefer to wait until after Gameweek 27 before deciding whether to buy.