Updated: Saturday, 24th March 2018 @ 6:02am

Stat Attack: MM looks at Romelu Lukaku and Roberto Firmino ahead of Manchester United vs Liverpool

Stat Attack: MM looks at Romelu Lukaku and Roberto Firmino ahead of Manchester United vs Liverpool

| By Dane Massey

This summer, Belgium and Brazil are two of the front runners to lift the FIFA World Cup in Russia – but before then two players who will be vying for a place as the main centre-forward in each team come face-to-face on opposite sides.

Archetypal number nine Romelu Lukaku will lead Manchester United’s attack, but eyes will also be on his opposite number, Roberto Firmino of Liverpool, when the two side’s meet at 12:30 on Saturday.

Manchester City may be considerably ahead of the rest, but just two points separates United and Liverpool in second and third respectively. This means tomorrow’s clash could be a pivotal game in the fight for second place.

In English football, games don’t come any bigger than United against Liverpool, the history and tradition of this fixture is like no other.

Super strikers have lit up the famous fixture in the past, but tomorrow two of the finest modern day strikers will spearhead the attacks of United and Liverpool, both of whom  are in good goal scoring form and so vital to the way their teams play.

Here, MM compares two very different types of strikers, assessing their performances so far in 2017/18.


  • Romelu Menama Lukaku Bolingoli, age 24 (Manchester United and Belgium)
  • Roberto Firmino Barbosa de Oliveira, age 26 (Liverpool and Brazil)

Fun facts

  • Lukaku is fluent in six languages (English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch and Congolese Swahili).
  • Firmino shares the same birthday as famous Indian activist Mahatma Gandhi (October 2).

Goals & assists


A post shared by ROBERTOFIRMINO9 (@roberto_firmino) on


Between them, Lukaku and Firmino have missed just one game each all season – both are ever presents for their side.

They justify their weekly selections with goals and assists, both have contributed to 20 goals for their teams. Lukaku has scored 14 and set up six, while Firmino has netted 13 times and laid on seven assists for his teammates.

Lukaku and Firmino are fifth and sixth in the Premier League goal scoring charts, with Firmino’s teammate Mo Salah is joint-top with Harry Kane, followed by City duo Sergio Aguero and Raheem Sterling.

Conversion rate

Lukaku has been active in and around the box. United and Belgium’s number nine has had 62 shots this term, with 37 on target. His counterpart, Firmino, has had fewer shots, registering 27 of his 44 shots on target.

In terms of shot accuracy, the pair are evenly matched. A respectable 60% of Lukaku’s shots have been on target, with Firmino bettering that statistic by just 1%.

When analysing the shots to goal ratio, Liverpool’s Brazilian significantly comes out on top. Firmino’s conversion rate is 29.5%, while Lukaku’s is just 22.6%.

Passing and dribbling

Liverpool’s average possession is higher than United’s. The Merseyside reds have had the ball on average 58.2% of the time, but United’s average possession count is slightly less at 54.5%.

With his team averaging greater ball possession, Firmino sees more of the ball than Lukaku, and this shows in the passes completed with Firmino completing 870 passes to Lukaku’s 618.

The average pass accuracy, though, is fairly close. Firmino is good in possession, his average pass accuracy stands at 72%. But in the same area of his game, Lukaku weighs in with an average pass accuracy of 69%.

Both are also impressive when it comes to dribbling, but it is Firmino who again comes out on top, completing 37 dribbles to Lukaku’s 31.

Defensive contribution

There is no doubting Lukaku and Firmino on the ball, but off the ball both provide what Jose Mourinho and Jurgen Klopp typically demand from their centre-forwards – work rate and defensive contribution.

Firmino excels in Klopp’s high-pressing system, where he is the first line of defence. This is the area of Firmino’s game which perhaps sets him apart from many in the same position. In 2017/18, Firmino has made an incredible 49 tackles – the highest in the division from a centre-forward. He has also made 14 interceptions.

United’s system is not geared towards a high press as much. Mourinho teams traditionally like to sit back and soak up pressure when the opposition have the ball. Nevertheless, Lukaku has made just seven tackles and interceptions combined (six tackles and one interception).

The Belgian’s defensive contribution mustn’t be underestimated, though. United are a big, powerful team and Lukaku has been a big part of it this season, making 17 clearances – six more than Firmino.

Aerial duels

Unsurprisingly, Lukaku comes out on top in this one. The former Everton man is four-and-a-half inches taller than Liverpool’s wiry number nine, and this tells when comparing the aerial statistics of both centre-forwards.

Lukaku has won 46% of his aerial duels, with Firmino winning just 33%. Despite this, the Brazilian has been equally as efficient with his head in front of goal – both he and Lukaku have scored three headed goals apiece in the Premier League in 2017/18.


These statistics certainly provide fascinating insight. Firmino is no doubt the perfect man to spearhead Klopp’s attack due to his tireless work-rate and incredible link-up play, particularly with Salah.

Lukaku’s link-up play has improved throughout the season, but his brute strength, sheer physicality and aerial ability make him the ideal centre-forward for Mourinho, who has traditionally adopted the target man approach at every club he’s been at.

*Images courtesy of Romelu Lukaku and Roberto Firmino via Instagram, with thanks.