Liverpool hero Barnes makes Firmino declaration ahead of vital Chelsea clash

Anfield legend John Barnes has declared Roberto Firmino must not be dropped for Liverpool's clash with Chelsea despite his goal-shy form.

Reds forward Firmino has scored just once since Christmas and his tally for the season is a meagre six goals in 36 appearances.

His finishing has been off the mark in 2021 and was once again sub-par against Sheffield United on Sunday. The Brazilian fired straight at Aaron Ramsdale when through on goal in the first half and he later chose to square the ball rather than shoot when in another good position.

Although Firmino appeared to double Liverpool's lead against the Blades with a deflected effort on 65 minutes, replays showed his initial shot was off target and it went down as a Kean Bryan own-goal.

Firmino is certainly struggling in front of goal and appears to be lacking confidence, but Barnes insists the 29-year-old remains a vital cog in Jurgen Klopp's side.

Asked if Firmino would benefit from a spell out of the starting XI, Barnes told BonusCodeBets : "Personally, no, I don't think that would help the team at all.

"If you look at the way the team plays from an attacking perspective; the team always plays better when Firmino plays as he brings [Mohamed] Salah and [Sadio] Mane into the game.

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"That's why they score the goals they do. That's why Salah scores the goals that he does – he wouldn’t be the same player if it wasn’t for Firmino.

"Firmino is so much more than just a goal scorer. So I would always have him in the team.

"Jurgen Klopp knows better than I, in terms of giving them a rest with his confidence, whatever. But as far as I'm concerned, I would have him in the team every single week."

Do you agree with Barnes' verdict on Firmino? Have your say in the comments.

Liverpool will need to be clinical in front of goal as they welcome Chelsea to Anfield on Thursday night, as the Blues have conceded just two goals in nine games under Thomas Tuchel.

The match may have huge ramifications in the race for a top-four finish, with one point separating Chelsea and Liverpool in fifth in sixth respectively.

"It’ll be a tough one; especially as Liverpool have struggled to find that consistency lately," added Barnes.

"I wouldn’t go as far as saying that they’re playing badly but someone for some reason they just can’t get the results and they keep on making mistakes.

"At the same time, Chelsea is playing very well and whatever they were lacking before, they’ve found and as a results. They’re consistent. Tuchel and the team clearly gel and the results speak for themselves."

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