Neil Jones has singled out one Liverpool player for praise who’s ‘been a big plus’ for Jurgen Klopp’s side this season and is ‘approaching his best form’.
With all the garlands heaped upon Mo Salah and Darwin Nunez, fellow attacker Diogo Jota has perhaps been overlooked for what he’s contributed this term, with his tally of six goals equal to the Uruguayan and bettered only by the mercurial Egyptian at Anfield (Transfermarkt).
The 26-year-old opened the scoring in the 3-0 win over Nottingham Forest on Sunday and, having missed four months of last season through injury, he’s made up for lost time since his comeback in the spring.
In his latest Empire of the Kop Substack column, Jones said of the Portugal forward: “When he came back and got those two goals against Leeds [in April], I think only Salah has scored more goals for Liverpool since. So that tells you he’s back to something approaching his best form.”
The journalist added: “He’s been a big plus for Liverpool this season. To be fair, there have been a lot of big pluses for Liverpool so far, but Jota being available, fit and scoring is definitely a huge one.
“You think about some of the games Liverpool have coming up… there are some big ones after the international break and none bigger than the first one against Manchester City. I’d expect Diogo Jota to be in the starting lineup if fit.”
Having started only half of Liverpool’s Premier League matches so far this season (Transfermarkt), the Reds’ number 20 hasn’t exactly been the first name on Klopp’s team sheet since the start of the campaign.
That makes his return of six goals from 12 appearances in all competitions (Transfermarkt) look even better, with the frightening level of competition in our attack precluding Jota from nailing down a starting berth.
While at times he can seem peripheral in games, he has that enviable knack of popping up in key moments to plunder significant goals for LFC, with his dramatic winner in the 4-3 defeat of Tottenham six months ago perhaps the prime example of that.
As Jones says, when it comes to potentially season-defining showdowns such as the Man City clash on 25 November, the 26-year-old’s penchant for big moments could well see him get the nod to start from Klopp.
Jota’s importance to Liverpool could be even more pronounced when Salah goes to the Africa Cup of Nations early next year, and history suggests that the Portuguese attacker could make the most of that potential opportunity.