Tag Archives: Diogo Jota

Liverpool proving they can win without Mo Salah firing

It says something about the strength of the Premier League right now that three of the top four teams in the world right now are plying their trade in England’s top flight.

Alongside Bayern Munich of the Bundesliga, Man City, Chelsea and Liverpool are running riot as the best and most effective teams in the world right now.

In those teams are some of the best players in the world right now, but arguably the best of the bunch currently is Anfield hero Mohamed Salah.

The Egyptian has been in the form of his life so far this season, registering an amazing 17 goals and eight assists in 18 games in all competitions.

But as Liverpool played host to Southampton on Saturday afternoon, for once he wasn’t firing on all cylinders. Even despite that though, Liverpool were able to run out 4-0 winners thanks to goals from Diogo Jota, Thiago and Virgil Van Dijk.

Salah did register an assist, but the overall performance for Liverpool was very encouraging against a good side in Southampton.

The full-backs were flying once again, with both Andy Robertson and Trent Alexander-Arnold registering assists, while the midfield were able to dominate the ball and also chip in with creativity too.

It was the performance of Portuguese forward Jota that would have been most encouraging for Jurgen Klopp though, as he continued his excellent form with two goals early in the first half.

For a player who was initially signed as cover for the famous front three, Jota’s form and performances have pushed him firmly into consideration for a regular starting role in the team ahead of Roberto Firmino.

One of the big things for Liverpool’s attack was that all three players didn’t need to be firing for them to be influential on the result of a game, but Firmino’s drop-off over the last 18 months had essentially taken one of their weapons away.

Jota’s work rate means Liverpool are able to restore the feeling without Firmino, but his added quality in attack means they are back to having a three-pronged attack that is capable of rotating and going toe-to-toe with any defence in the world.

For Liverpool that can only be a good thing. It means that when a team does manage to halt the momentum of Salah, or even Sadio Mane for that matter, they still have one more weapon in their arsenal to punish the opposition.

It’s amazing for Liverpool and just another reason why they’re among the best teams in the world currently.

Fernando Santos on borrowed time with Portugal

At the start of the international break this month, Portugal were in pole position to have their qualification status for Qatar 2022 all wrapped up.

They travelled to face the Republic of Ireland in a bit of a dead rubber game, because regardless of the result it was the final game against Serbia on Sunday night that mattered.

A 0-0 draw with Ireland changed nothing. Portugal needed a draw in the home game against Serbia to secure top spot on goal difference, while a victory would leave no question as to whether they deserved it or not.

The pre-game press conference once again led to Fernando Santos making a promise to Portugal fans.

“Tomorrow, we will qualify for the World Cup.”

They didn’t. Despite a goal from Renato Sanches in the second minute that gave them the lead, Portugal were poor throughout. Serbia equalised in the first half thanks to Dusan Tadic, whose strike took a slight deflection off Danilo and meant Rui Patricio could only deflect the ball into his own net.

Portugal barely created any chances in the game, with Cristiano Ronaldo failing to register a single shot on target in the game for the first time in the entire qualifying campaign.

But in the 93rd minute, Aleksandar Mitrovic slammed a header in at the near post to book Serbia’s ticket to Qatar and condemn Portugal to a play-off that makes their participation at the World Cup far from certain.

Santos has been in charge of Portugal since September 2014, when he took over from Carlos Quieroz after a poor start to their World Cup qualifying campaign.

The former Greece manager saved that campaign and led them in that World Cup, before then winning Euro 2016. He then led the team into the 2018 World Cup, where as European champions they really disappointed by crashing out in the round of 16 to Uruguay.

That should’ve been the trigger for Santos to depart, but instead Portugal opted to keep him and gave him the extra credit of winning Euro 2016. He responded by winning the first ever version of the UEFA Nations League the following year, defeating Holland in the final.

Since then however, it’s not been great going. Portugal struggled at Euro 2020 to a late win over Hungary in the opening group game before a defeat to Germany and a draw with France put them through as a best third-placed team. They were then beaten by Belgium, once again failing to really create much going forward.

Head coach Fernando Santos of Portugal, is seen during the UEFA EURO 2020, Round of 16 football match between Belgium and Portugal at La Cartuja...

Now with this latest failure, it seems like his time as being the right man for the job is probably over.

With the squad at his disposal, he is a totally wrong fit for the team. Santos is constantly putting defence first when trying to sort a squad out, despite the abundance of attacking talent he has available to him.

The first thought of the manager is always not to lose rather than to win, which fitted well with expectations when he first took over but not so much anymore.

This is a squad that is more than capable of going toe-to-toe with the best teams in the world with a bit of tactical invention and good structure.

With the likes of Bruno Fernandes, Joao Felix, Bernardo Silva, Diogo Jota and Ronaldo among the ranks then this is a team very capable of scoring goals.

Cristiano Ronaldo of Portugal , Joao Felix and Bruno Fernandes warm up prior the friendly football match between Portugal and Andorra, at the Luz...

With a four month period now between the failure and the play-offs in March, there is a chance to make a change now and bring in a more attack-minded coach like Leonardo Jardim to get the best out of this upcoming generation of attacking talent.

Santos is on borrowed time with Portugal and they have a chance to make it right before they miss out on a World Cup competition for the first time since 2002.

Diogo Jota a Liverpool injury doubt after missing Portugal internationals

Liverpool are facing a period of time without Diogo Jota being available to them after he missed both of Portugal’s internationals during the break.

The winger started for Liverpool in their final game before the international break against Manchester City before being substituted in the second half.

He was selected by Portugal boss Fernando Santos for their games against Qatar and Luxembourg, but has been unable to train all week due to a muscle injury.

Jota was left out of the Portugal lineup that faced Qatar in a friendly as Santos rested most of his regular starters, but there was hope that the winger would be available for the World Cup qualifier against Luxembourg on Tuesday.

However the Portuguese Football Federation released a statement on Tuesday afternoon revealing that Jota had been sent home from international duty early after being unable to train once again, meaning he was unavailable for the game. A statement said;

“Diogo Jota was dismissed by the national team manager Fernando Santos, after being considered unavailable by the FPF Health and Performance Unit to face Luxembourg, in a meeting to be held this Tuesday.

Diogo Jota of Liverpool goes off during the Premier League match between Liverpool and Manchester City at Anfield on October 03, 2021 in Liverpool,...

“The Liverpool player, who has already left the stage of the national team, has done conditioning work since the beginning of the international break, having also missed the match against Qatar.”

Jota is a doubt for Liverpool’s weekend game against Watford at Vicarage Road, where they could also be without goalkeeper Alisson and midfielder Fabinho who are on international duty with Brazil.

They aren’t expected to return from South America until late on Friday night and with the game against Watford on Saturday in the lunch-time slot, their participation is unlikely.

Liverpool then face Atletico Madrid in the Champions League in midweek before a trip to Old Trafford to face Manchester United in the Premier League the following weekend.

Diogo Jota returns to Molineaux with winner as Fabinho shows importance

Liverpool got back on the winning trail in the Premier League thanks to a goal from the returning Diogo Jota, as they beat Wolves 1-0 at Molineaux.

The Reds and Wolves traded chances in the first half until Jota’s opener right on the strike of half-time, a fine left footed strike inside the box that goalkeeper Rui Patricio probably should have done better with.

Nuno Espirito Santo’s men created some good openings, with Adama Traore’s final decision letting them down several times as Liverpool held on for all three points. The game was marred by a clash between Conor Coady and Patricio in goal as they tried to stop Mohamed Salah from scoring – only for the offside flag to be raised after Salah put the ball in the net. Patricio was stretchered off after a near 15 minute delay.

The Reds made it back-to-back wins in all competitions and secured their first Premier League win in three games, following defeats to Liverpool and Fulham. It was a fairly solid performance from Jurgen Klopp’s side, who were arguably only missing three players from what would be considered their strongest lineup.

Fabinho returned to a midfield role for the first time since Virgil Van Dijk’s injury back in October in the Premier League and he was imperious once again as the Reds kept their third clean sheet since the turn of the year in the league.

He proved what many have been saying for a while that Klopp should have trusted his younger defenders earlier in the season and kept Fabinho in midfield during the injury crisis rather than putting him into an unnatural position.

With him at the base of the midfield, Liverpool are still solid at the back and have a better passer to keep possession ticking over and sustaining attacks. He is arguably the best defensive midfielder in the world and it showed in this game.

Further forward, Diogo Jota proved that it wasn’t just a hot streak at a new club as he got on the scoresheet once again in his second Premier League start since November. He provided an injection of pace but also a versatility to be able to move to both wings and allow Sadio Mane and Salah to move centrally on occasion too.

With Roberto Firmino struggling hugely in the last 18 months or so to make a real impact, his place is most certainly up for grabs and Jota is making Klopp seriously consider giving him that role on a more permanent basis with his performances.

As for Wolves, they continue to struggle to create and score goals without Raul Jimenez leading the line. They’ve scored only 17 league goals in the 19 league games since the Mexican striker’s injury in the Arsenal game and Adama Traore made it 47 games without a goal in the league and despite having some impressive runs going forward, he constantly made bad decisions or had a poor final product.

It’s an area that needs addressing for them as they sit just nine points clear of the relegation zone with nine games to go. Liverpool moved up to sixth in the league, five points behind Chelsea in fourth and two points behind fifth placed West Ham having played a game more than the Hammers.

Liverpool: Diogo Jota or Roberto Firmino against Manchester City?

Liverpool’s front three has picked itself for the best part of four years under Jurgen Klopp.

Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino have led Liverpool to back-to-back Champions League finals, winning one, and two of the best Premier League points tallies in history, winning one.

They have been the untouchables, along with Virgil Van Dijk, until now.

Salah and Mane have maintained their positions through world class performances against all levels of opposition. Firmino however, has seemingly kept his place under the guise that he is a key part of the system.

Klopp has employed a 4-3-3 formation for much of his time at Anfield, with Firmino as the false 9 allowing extra space for Salah and Mane to drive into to score their goals. But over the last 18 months or so, his performances have been significantly poorer than previously.

With Diogo Jota arriving from Wolves during the summer window, many expected him to provide competition and strength in depth for the champions. Since the start of the season though, Jota has done nothing but impress.

He scored on his Premier League debut in the win against Arsenal before a string of substitute appearances. He then scored the winner against Sheffield United, a goal in the Champions League against Midtjtylland followed by the winner against West Ham United.

Atalanta BC v Liverpool FC: Group D - UEFA Champions League : News Photo

All of this led to him earning a start in midweek against the dangerous Atalanta side, where he lead the line in Firmino’s central position and came away with a hat-trick before being substituted after 65 minutes.

So with Manchester City at The Etihad Stadium on Sunday to come, does Klopp go with tried and tested or new and shiny?

There are pros and cons for both players. The obvious pros for Jota’s inclusion are that he is in phenomenal form currently. He has proven he can line-up centrally with Mane and Salah either side of him and they can all get on the scoresheet together. His pace is an added threat for defences to worry about, especially against a high-line.

For Firmino, his experience in the team and his record against big clubs is impressive. He has five goals and five assists in 14 appearances against Man City and we’ve seen Klopp’s side completely dominate against Guardiola’s over recent years, so much so that Guardiola often changes his shape and style for the games.

Personally, despite many fans calling for Jota to start, I’d go with Firmino for this one.

The Brazilian often drops deep enough into midfield that he helps Liverpool’s runners win the battle against the possession-heavy Man City side. They tend to outnumber City’s three midfielders and his technical ability allows him to play a key role in helping Salah and Mane cause problems up front.

It’s also the added bonus that should the game not be going the way of Liverpool with Firmino from the start, Jota has proven he can make an impact off the bench to change games. Should Jota start and Liverpool need something, Firmino’s style is unlikely to have so much of an impact.

As Klopp said after the Atalanta game, good performances are not a headache for managers. He has options, strength in depth and the ability to change the game from his bench if needed now for a game that will likely have some kind of impact on any title race come May.