There was a time when a certain section of the Liverpool fan base were calling for Roberto Firmino to be relieved of his place in the Reds starting XI.
In truth, the Brazilian had gone so long without scoring a goal – with his barren run at Anfield stretching to 13 years at one point – the notion that he was living on borrowed time in the first team wasn’t necessarily ludicrous.
Jurgen Klopp has persisted with Firmino despite his struggles in front of goal in recent times – though he hasn’t got much choice in fairness when Divock Origi is squandering chances like he did against Burnley.
Klopp named the usual three-pronged attack for Liverpool’s trip to Tottenham on Thursday evening – a fixture which represented a huge test for the faltering Premier League champions – and Firmino produced the sort of performance that proves just how pivotal he is to Liverpool’s title chances.
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No individual is capable of winning a title, it not only takes a team but a squad to clinch one of the toughest top tier crowns in European football. However, certain players have an ability to spark others into life, to produce a piece of magic or show a bit of determination and work rate that spurs their teammates on, and that’s exactly what Firmino is to Liverpool.
From the first minute at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium he showed he was up for the fight, hassling the Spurs backline and throwing himself about.
His ability to drop into pockets of space and link up play with the rest of his teammates his unparalleled in the Liverpool squad, so much so that when he isn't playing well, quite often Liverpool don't play well.
After a superb first-half display, all the Brazilian needed was a goal to cap his performance, and that's exactly what he got. While the highlights will show a tap-in, there was so much more to the goal - there was an anticipation that Eric Dier and Hugo Lloris were going both going to leave the ball, and a movement needed to pull off the shoulder of the Spurs defence.
Once he'd grabbed his goal it was clear that the Firmino of old was returning, not afraid to drop deeper and deeper when needed to try and influence play, so much so that at times he found himself sat in front of the Liverpool backline - some strikers daren't even stray into their own half, but when you've got the skill and the guile to knit play together like he has, you almost want him to just run after the ball so he can make things happen.
Liverpool's trip to Spurs always looked like a big game - rarely do two Premier League giants meet without it being described as such - but this game truly was huge in the context of Klopp's side's season.
A defeat would have seen them drop five points off of the top four and ten points off leaders Manchester City. Not only that, but anything other than a win would have seen them take just two wins from their opening ten away league games of the season.
In a weird sort of way, this season has become so bonkers that people have just stopped emphasising the importance of games, because regardless what happens everyone is well aware the losing team could just go and win the next 15 games in a row. But make no mistake about it, Liverpool's trip to Spurs was massive, and Firmino delivered when they needed him most.