Liverpool FC

Diogo Jota's return from injury is just what Liverpool need

Robbie Copeland
Feb 22, 2021, 9:00 PM GMT
Jota is expected back imminently and it can't come soon enough
Jota is expected back imminently and it can't come soon enough | Michael Regan/Getty Images
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The simple truth at the root of everything going wrong with Liverpool this season is that they aren't scoring enough goals.

It may seem reductive, and of course there is more to discuss: the defensive injury situation has gotten beyond a joke, the midfield lacks balance and urgency, and there is a crisis of confidence all over the pitch.

The bottom line, though, is they have hit the back of the net just eight times in nine Premier League matches since the turn of the year. And six of those came in wins over Tottenham and West Ham which ultimately proved to be a false dawn.

It's a problem that was addressed by Georginio Wijnaldum in a series of tweets following the painful Anfield defeat to Everton, and one Jurgen Klopp admits has him scratching his head.

What can you do when your team is creating chances but not taking them?

Well, you can hope and pray for the return of a certain Portuguese forward who scored nine goals in just ten starts before getting injured in December.

Liverpool are expecting Diogo Jota back in training this week, and the summer signing from Wolves must be champing at the bit to get back onto the pitch and help his side put their goalscoring woes behind them.

He only had around ten weeks to make his presence felt at Anfield before a knee problem put him on the sidelines, but he had such an impact that Klopp changed his tried and tested shape just to fit him in. He was the player who could finally offer a genuine alternative to Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah, and it is unlikely to be a coincidence that, in his absence, goals for two of those three have dried up.

The form of Mane and Firmino in recent weeks has been a particular cause for concern. You can't judge forwards solely on goals, of course, but two goals between them since the turn of the year rings alarm bells.

It's hard to pinpoint whether it has been fatigue, motivation, confidence, or just a straight drop-off in form, but whatever the case, having Jota back in the picture gives Klopp the chance to take action.

His availability simultaneously takes the pressure off the underperforming duo, and heaps another kind of pressure on: all of a sudden, there is someone else prepared to shoulder the goalscoring responsibility, but to do that, he will need a place in the team.

There have been calls for Klopp to try something different after falling to an unprecedented fourth home defeat on the spin, and that's another reason he will be pleased to have Jota back in the picture.

His dexterity adds an unpredictability: he gives Klopp the option to go 4-2-3-1, 4-4-2 or even 4-2-4 in times of desperation, and that could be invaluable at a time when opponents seem to have Liverpool figured out.

Most crucially, though, Jota is just another player who can score goals. So much of the burden has fallen on Salah in recent weeks, so the return of a forward who was in red hot form back in December gives the attack a much-needed injection of impetus.

Part of what has made the past few weeks so bleak has been the dull, sleepwalking state of Liverpool's attacking options.

So while Jota is not going to save the season by himself, his re-emergence makes the light at the end of the tunnel that little bit brighter.

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