There are a few things to be certain of in 2020: Donald Trump will make an arse out of himself on multiple occasions. The X Factor will run yet another truly terrible series. And Liverpool will win the Premier League.
Jurgen Klopp has created a fantastically well-oiled machine, who have proved themselves capable of churning out victories consistently for the past year. The ‘fabulous three’ of Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino have been exquisite.
It isn’t surprising to realise that Anfield’s centre forward has more to do with Harry Potter, Hogwarts and Hufflepuff than most people think. Clearly, as a striker who frequently drops deep into midfield, he is channelling the energy of not quite an out-and-out number 9, not quite a number 10 playmaker, but his own unique role of a ‘9 and Three Quarters’.
Now, this isn’t to say you will find Firmino running into walls at King’s Cross on his days off, nor would you catch him rigorously practising the pronunciation of ‘Levi-oh-sah’ after training. Yet in his ability to seemingly appear out of nowhere in just about every position during a match, it doesn’t necessarily imply that he is one hundred percent Muggle.
Liverpool’s 4-0 victory over Southampton was a perfect example of this. In the heat map below, you can see that Firmino was almost as equally present at right back as he was on the left wing or central midfield.
In fact, the striker assisted three out of the four goals for Liverpool, with two of these assists being the result of fantastic movement outside of a typical centre forward position.
J.K. Rowling fans would be proud of his Hedwig-like quality; flying all over the pitch and making deliveries of the highest calibre.
For the first goal, Firmino dropped into his own half to receive the ball with his back to goal. Not only is he contributing to the overall attack by laying the ball off to Wijnaldum, but he has also dragged Southampton’s centre back, Bednarek, into Liverpool’s half.
The ball then goes out to the left wing, and is exchanged between Oxlade-Chamberlain and Robertson before being fed back into Firmino for his next touch. This is a sublime back-heel to lay off Oxlade-Chamberlain, who comes up with an equally good right-footed finish. Two touches, two passes, in two halves, one back-heel, one assist and one fantastic contribution from Firmino.
His other assists weren’t bad either. The second saw him pull out to the left wing to allow Jordan Henderson to press the keeper, which ultimately resulted in a turnover of possession; the ball fell again to Firmino who laid a simple pass into the box for Henderson to finish.
The third was a lovely one-two with Salah, coming about after Firmino made a run through the centre of the park. All three of his set-ups versus Southampton came from completely different positions.
It’s not uncommon to see him in defence either. In this freeze-frame from the recent Norwich match, the number nine has dropped to replace Robertson on the left, covering for his full back.
After intercepting a through ball, he releases Robertson, and the ball progresses to Salah, who ultimately fails to make a decent cross to the man at the far post. Who is that man looking for the final ball after an eighty metre sprint? Firmino.
Frankly there is a rather wizardly quality to the way Liverpool’s centre forward can pop up just about anywhere on the pitch with ease. Jurgen Klopp said of his efforts versus Southampton:
“He is just exceptional, a very football-smart person, obviously… the way he drops and keeps the ball, how he makes things happen is very special, absolutely.” 
And yet if Bobby really is a wizard, Klopp is surely Albus Dumbledore. It was he who first deployed Firmino in that role, for an extended period of time anyway.
During his time at Hoffenheim, Firmino was used as a centre forward, a winger and an attacking midfielder at various points. He signed for Liverpool in 2015 and for a while, struggled to find any consistent form under Brendan Rogers, playing alongside fellow striker Christian Benteke in a role which in hindsight probably wasn’t his best.
However, it didn’t take long for Jurgen Klopp to see Firmino’s potential as an all rounder, and by early 2016, was experimenting with playing him in the ‘nine and three quarters’ role in a game against Manchester United.
This game prompted a fair amount of interest from the media on Firmino’s new position, and rightly so. It was a genius moment from Klopp, who, four years down the line, has built a stylistic identity playing his number nine in such a unique way.
In fact, there is a rather brilliant quote from a ‘Four Four Two’ article which was written at the time:
“If Klopp can find some goal threat from wide, perhaps from Daniel Sturridge, this false nine system might become very exciting.” 
Granted, Sturridge is probably a bit too busy eating Turkish Delights in the injury room at Trabzonspor nowadays, but with the addition of Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah, Liverpool have really fulfilled this prediction and become very exciting indeed.
Perhaps, years ago when Klopp sat down to plan the Reds’ attacking tactics, he had just finished the latest Potter book. Maybe he was inspired by J.K. Rowling’s ‘fabulous three’ of her own in Ron, Hermione and Harry. One thing’s for sure — this season, Liverpool has conjured up something truly magical.
Edited by Katherine Guerrero