Opinion: 3 Premier League players with a point to prove this weekend, including £29m Liverpool man

Nathaniel Kay February 25, 2021
Opinion: 3 Premier League players with a point to prove this weekend, including £29m Liverpool man
Photo by Robbie Jay Barratt - AMA/Getty Images

Expectation always weighs heavily on the shoulders of Premier League players, arguably none more so than those on the books of Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur.

Both clubs have suffered some of the hardest falls from grace in recent times.

After a fine start to the season, the wheels have come off at Spurs and Liverpool. Many members of their expensively assembled squads have a massive point to prove this weekend.

Here are three players we think need to step up to the plate before Monday swings back around.

Photo by Robbie Jay Barratt – AMA/Getty Images

Roberto Firmino – Liverpool

Usually a trip to Sheffield United on a Sunday night (7.15pm) would be a stroll for Liverpool. Not this season.

Jurgen Klopp’s tired-looking men haven’t been taking teams apart in the leisurely manner of recent seasons. Liverpool have lost their fearsome reputation.

While the defence has been the main focus of Liverpool’s woes this campaign, Klopp’s fabled front three are also suffering, particularly Roberto Firmino.

When things were going right for the Reds, Firmino provided a touch of elegance to their ruthless attack.

Now things are going badly, the Brazilian looks lost in translation.

Firmino was often celebrated as the £29 million (BBC Sport) striker who didn’t need to score. However, that moniker has come back to haunt him.

With Diogo Jota back from injury and possibly fit enough to feature against Sheffield United, Firmino may fear for his position.

A goal would certainly improve his chances of remaining in the starting XI, he has six this season.

Photo by ANDY RAIN/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

Gareth Bale – Tottenham

Much like Liverpool, the Spurs of old wouldn’t fear a visit from Burnley (Sunday 2pm).

However, his critics would say Jose Mourinho has taken the Tottenham side back in time. They accuse him of orchestrating football that’s outdated and hard to watch.

One man who has looked past his own sell-by date at times has been Gareth Bale.

After being left out or lambasted by certain sections of the media, it appeared the Welshman was down and out.

However, Bale’s stock has risen again in recent weeks.

Bale has grabbed confidence-boosting goals in the Europa League and enjoyed a decent cameo against West Ham United.

The Welshman may have forced himself into contention to start against Burnley. It’s an opportunity he has to make the most of.

Photo by Robbie Jay Barratt – AMA/Getty Images

Ozan Kabak – Liverpool

Returning to Premier League champions Liverpool, their frail title defence has largely been down to their own, well, fragile defence.

Injuries to Virgil van Dijk, Joe Gomez and Joel Matip have led to a nightmare Klopp seems unable to wake from.

Even Liverpool’s back-ups aren’t available. Jordan Henderson hobbled off during the derby on Saturday, while fellow midfielder Fabinho is having fitness struggles of his own.

All that pressure is starting to heap on transfer window signing Ozan Kabak.

The 20-year-old has failed to adapt to life in the Premier League as fast as Reds fans would have hoped.

Other than a solid game in the Champions League against RB Leipzig, Kabak has come under serious fire in the league. Liverpool have been getting burned in the process.

With the Blades not exactly prolific in front of goal, Sunday is an opportunity for Kabak to show some steel in Sheffield.

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Nathaniel is a football journalist who graduated from the University of Derby. He has worked at Burton Albion as part of their media team for two years. Nathaniel produces regular articles for the club’s official website and match-day programme. He covered the 2018 U20 Women’s World Cup in Brittany and has reported from grounds ranging from non-league up to the Premier League.