Roberto Firmino is busy.
When you have a No9 as good at pressing and hounding defenders as Liverpool’s white-teethed Brazilian, defending starts from the very front.
Firmino has made 62 tackles in the Premier League this season.
Here’s nine defenders/defensive midfielders who have completed fewer challenges than the 25-goal forward this campaign…
1 Shrokdran Mustafi (61 tackles)
Everyone’s been digging out the German defender for making fewer tackles than Firmino this campaign.
However, while Mustafi deserves criticism for his form this season, he’s far from the only defensive-minded player to have been left in the dust by the Brazilian when it comes to tackles…
2 Jan Vertonghen (60 tackles)
The Spurs centre-back has been widely praised for his performances this season, and rightfully so.
This stat shows that making fewer tackles than Firmino doesn’t necessarily mean the defender has been poor, far from it.
In fact, good defenders rely on interceptions, clearances and attentive marking, meaning they don’t have to make many tackles.
Last season, Toby Alderweireld, arguably the league’s best centre-back, completed 41 tackles.
3 Fernandinho (54 tackles)
Now here’s someone who should be making a load of tackles.
Granted, Man City have the majority of possession in most games, but it’s still surprising to see Fernandinho’s tackle count left in Firmino’s wake.
4 Eric Dier (56 tackles)
North London’s resident hard man has featured in all but three of Spurs’ league games this season.
His primary duty is to win the ball back, but he’s still trailing Liverpool’s second top scorer in that regard.
5 Jordan Henderson (49 tackles)
This is a good representation of Liverpool’s high press.
The Reds’ centre-forward has made more tackles than their deep-lying midfielder.
6 Nicolas Otamendi (53 tackles)
Another highly-rated centre-back left short by Firmino.
Suddenly Mustafi’s tally doesn’t look quite as bad, does it?
7 Harry Maguire (51 tackles)
Leicester were wise to recruit Maguire last summer and the 25-year-old has been required to do his fair share of defending this season.
Still not quite on Firmino’s level though, obviously…
8 Nacho Monreal (54 tackles)
Okay, you get the point by now.
9 Mohamed Diame (59 tackles)
One final tough-tackling midfielder for good measure.
Only 19 players have made more tackles than Firmino this season.
Jordan Ayew (68) is the only forward to have completed more challenges, and that’s because Swansea were permanently under the cosh for the first two thirds of the season.
Richarlison (60) is the only other forward with over 40 tackles to his name this season — completing the Prem’s holy trinity of industrious forwards.
Firmino has already made more four more tackles than he completed in the whole of last season.
If he keeps up his average of just over two tackles per game for the remainder of the current campaign, he’ll end up around the 70 mark, which would level tackle-enthusiast Gareth Barry’s final total from last season.
TL;DR: Firmino is good at attacking and defending. Mustafi shouldn’t be criticised for making fewer tackles than him