How Liverpool’s Front Three Evolved, and Their Current Backup

How Liverpool’s Front Three Evolved, and Their Current Backup
September 30, 2020 Mizgan Masani

 

It is hard to argue against Liverpool’s current front three being the best in the world. It has been for the last two or three years. The consistency of their performance levels, combined with the fact that they work so well as a unit, is something to behold. 

What Firmino does is totally different from Mane and Salah. The Brazilian is more of an instigator of pressing from the front, making unselfish runs, dropping deep and conducting everything that is going forward for the team. On the other hand, both Salah and Mane are superb at making out-to-in runs in the opposition box, help in pressing from the front, track back and also link with the onrushing full-backs.

Combining these traits makes for a front three that is unique in its own way and is probably irreplaceable in more ways than the other. A look at their stats season by season below show how massively they have contributed to the success of this team.

2017/18:

This was the first season the front three got together with the signing of Salah in the summer of 2017. Though the first six months of this season featured Philippe Coutinho, it was more a case of the Brazilian playing the role of an attacking number eight behind these forwards. 

Liverpool finished fourth in the league with 76 points and went all the way to the Champions League final, where they lost to Real Madrid. Here are the numbers of the front three in league and Europe:

Metric Salah Mane Firmino Total
Goals 43 20 26 79
xG (expected goal) 27.69 16.48 19.58 63.75
Assists 12 6 11 29
xA (expected assist) 11.56 6.9 10.68 29.14
Shot Assists per game 1.84 1.35 1.61 4.8
Passes to opp Penalty box

per game

3.51 2.89 2.84 9.24
Recoveries in Opp Half

per game

2.93 3.85 4.04 10.82
Press Success % 29% 31% 28% Avg of 29.33% 

 

Liverpool scored 131 goals in 51 games in that season in league and Europe combined, 79 of which came from the front three  – 60.3% of the total goals. They made combined ball recoveries of more than 10 per game in the opposition half. So, the counter-pressing was executed in the right way, starting from the frontline. This also just shows how good they were in suffocating teams. The press success percentage of over 20% is generally defined as decent, but all the three had rates close to 30%. 

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