Talk about an immediate hit. If ever there was any doubt regarding Liverpool’s decision to invest £45 million into attacker Diogo Jota, the past seven days have squashed any potential qualms regarding the move.
During two appearances against Arsenal, Jota showcased the attacking qualities he’ll bring to Liverpool demonstrating the club’s meticulous recruitment strategy to find traits in players that will befit Jurgen Klopp’s key philosophies and style of play.
To open your Anfield account on your Liverpool debut we’ll be an immediate weight off the shoulders of the Portugal international. It was a precise, instinctive strike to seal the win against Arsenal and the scary aspect of Jota’s inaugural Reds performance was that he should have had more.
The fact that Jota has the tactical and positional nous to get himself into those positions is in itself an encouraging sign. Jurgen Klopp said after the game that his newest addition only has “about 20 per cent of the information on what we do” which tells the story that there is plenty more to come.
Jota’s introduction for Sadio Mane against Arsenal was initially met with confusion considering the Senegalese ace was in one of those moods that made him practically unplayable. However, the former’s introduction offered Liverpool a seamlessly like-for-like replacement as Jota was able to successfully plug between the gaps that Klopp’s pedigreed front-three do so effortlessly.
In recent seasons, Liverpool have been heavily reliant on Divock Origi coming off the bench to make an impact and although the Belgian forward certainly offers a goalscoring threat, he does disrupt the dynamic of Klopp’s attacking system as his game is totally different to that of all of the front three.
Jota, by contrast, resolves this issue as his versatility across the front-line and his intelligence in the box seamlessly match Liverpool’s attacking style of play.
This was something that Klopp certainly noticed as his decision to include Jota in a front-three with Mohamed Salah and Takumi Minamino during the Carabao Cup bout was telling and offered an insight of how Liverpool could look to rotate in between competitions this season.
Despite failing to score and ultimately losing on penalties, the early signs were good as Liverpool kept plugging away looking for the opening that their dominance in possession warranted.
Minamino was desperately unlucky not to score after rattling the crossbar after pouncing on Jota’s saved effort from a header which was thwarted away by Arsenal’s impenetrable goalkeeper Bernd Leno.
In total, Jota took three shots – two of which were on target, made two key passes, completed three dribbles and was fouled on three occasions to cap off a menacing performance.
His ability to chase down Arsenal and the intensity Jota was able to press with was another factor of the forwards game that certainly wasn’t overlooked.
With a little fine-tuning and polishing in the next few weeks, Jota will gradually become more accustomed to Liverpool’s off-the-ball movement and pressing system that was able to suffocate Arsenal so effectively in the league clash on Monday.
It may only be a small sample size to base the early evidence off but as omens go, the early signs are positive. After all, Mane marked his Liverpool debut with a winning goal against Arsenal and it’s fair to say that his career has skyrocketed since.
If he can learn and evolve his game under the tutelage of both Klopp and his attacking counterparts then Liverpool really will have a player on their hands for the future. Jota is expected to start against Aston Villa so lets up he can pick up from where he left off following his goalscoring exploits against Arsenal.
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