For the first time since Liverpool’s pedigreed front-three came into existence, Jurgen Klopp has a realistic cause to alternate the dynamic among the world’s most feared attacking triumvirate.
The Premier League champions are now spoilt for choices when it comes to options from the bench which mean Klopp can regularly rotate without upsetting the balance of the team.
Indeed, Sadio Mane’s absence in the Aston Villa defeat could throw fuel to the fire in that particular regard following Liverpool’s catastrophic 7-2 defeat before the international break yet we can probably all appreciate that such a result was a freak that cannot be solely down to one player’s absence.
Against Villa, Diogo Jota was one of the few players who could leave the field with his credibility still in-tact following an encouraging performance, particularly in the first half.
The addition of Jota helped compensate for the Senegalese international’s recent absence as it meant Liverpool have added a player to the squad whose attacking qualities align with that of both Mane and Mohamed Salah.
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Jota, 23, is both unpredictable and lethal in attack – two qualities of the utmost importance for a typical Klopp player. He has a directness in his running coupled by his work rate off the ball which make him incredibly dangerous for Liverpool especially out of possession.
Takumi Minamino – who cost the Reds £7.25 million [BBC] back in January – is another player who is perfectly suited for an attacking role up-top especially when you consider the drop-off in performance levels in recent weeks from Roberto Firmino.
Against Aston Villa, despite registering an assist, Firmino was a peripheral figure during the capitulation in the Midlands. In a match which saw Liverpool dominate 70 per cent of the ball, the Brazilian managed just 27 passes and 44 touches according to WhoScored. He also squandered his first clear-cut chance of the season with Firmino still yet to find the net this season.
Firmino was also less effective from an offensive sense off the ball after he only pressured the opposition on nine occasions against Villa which is a huge drop off to his normal high standards. There has only been one occasion in the previous three seasons where he pressed less in a league match where he featured for more than 60 minutes.
His ineffectiveness out of possession against Villa coupled by his lack of goals in recent months have questioned whether Firmino’s place in the starting XI is still worthy of remaining unquestioned or whether it is time for Klopp to experiment with other options.
Minamino’s recent inspiring form doesn’t help matters for Firmino either. He is still yet to score in the Premier League this season, but he has scored on three separate occasions (Community Shield once, League Cup twice) which could warrant for Klopp to consider the player’s starting credentials when the team return from the international break this week.
Against Villa, Minamino pressured the opposition on 15 separate occasions, which despite only playing 45 minutes, was the third most by any visiting player on that humbling Sunday evening.
Another crucial factor which points in Minamino’s favour ahead of Saturday’s Merseyside derby is the fact that his last international involvement occurs in the Netherlands on Tuesday afternoon while Firmino won’t be back from South America until Thursday.
Given Klopp already only has limited time to get his team ready for the weekend’s excursions at Goodison Park, two extra days of preparations could go a long way in convincing the boss that Minamino is ready to be handed a starting berth at the weekend.