Jurgen Klopp must get his plan right with Diogo Jota. The forward feels like a potential saviour.
Liverpool are about to enter a very daunting period. Perhaps the most daunting of their season, all things considered.
They’ve lost four home games on the bounce, of course, and won just twice in the Premier League since the year turned. Their form since Christmas reads: Played 14, won 4, drawn 3, lost 7.
They were top at Christmas. Now they’re sixth.
Fortunately, Jurgen Klopp has £41m signing Diogo Jota back to fix everything. Is it actually that simple? Of course not. But the forward can make a huge difference.
Subscribe to Rousing The Kop TV now
He immediately gives Klopp a player with which to refresh his attack. Jota also means Liverpool can reliably play with four forward – something they tried against Manchester City in November.
But Jota hasn’t played since December 9th. And with the upcoming fixture list, Klopp can’t afford to get his recovery plan wrong.
Back in action
Jota is back training and could feature against Sheffield United later this evening. And given the current form, you can bet Klopp wants to throw him straight in.
But it’s not straightforward. Jota is still Liverpool’s second-top scorer and clearly a player who can help turn things around. But he will also be fragile.
Liverpool have seen with Fabinho that throwing someone in after an injury can lead to more injuries. They saw that with Joel Matip, too, in fact.
Make the same mistake and Jota could be out again. Then Liverpool lose their potential lifeline.
But the run of fixtures ahead of the international break will tempt Klopp to throw him in. After Sheffield United today, for instance, comes Chelsea – an absolutely massive game that will influence the Champions League race.
Beyond that is 18th-place Fulham. Now, that seems simple but Liverpool lost to the teams in 14th, 15th and 16th, while they drew with the teams in 17th and 19th since Christmas.
Even worse, they scored just once against those sides. They’ll want Jota.
Then comes a Champions League game against RB Leipzig that is, quite obviously, a massive one. Finally, Liverpool travel to face Jota’s old club, Wolves. Another tough fixture (but then, they all are right now).
Klopp can’t rush Jota back too quickly. At the same time, he’ll struggle to leave him out – and perhaps he shouldn’t leave him out.
Perhaps Klopp should play Jota in all of these games to reverse Liverpool’s form. Whatever his plan, he must get it right. If Jota breaks down or the Reds lose more games, this season could become a disaster they can’t recover from.