Diogo Jota is an ideal threat to West Ham United on Sunday. Liverpool look certain to start him up front after an injury.
Roberto Firmino won’t play for Liverpool against West Ham United. He’s carrying a ‘serious’ hamstring injury, according to Jurgen Klopp.
It’s a shame as Firmino has put in some brilliant performances lately. It also means Liverpool need to change how they play up top.
Firmino frequently drops deep in between the lines, dragging defenders around and offering a passing option for midfield. Liverpool lack another player like that and can’t play through the middle as well without Firmino.
But that may not be as big a problem against West Ham as other sides.
Diogo Jota to shine against West Ham?
Jota doesn’t play the same way Firmino does. He looks to get in behind and doesn’t link play particularly well. Instead, he focuses on being a goal-threat.
But that might make Jota the better fit against West Ham. David Moyes sets his team up to stop opponents playing through the middle. Declan Rice and Tomas Soucek are a formidable defensive shield – two smart, physical players.
Instead, Liverpool will likely focus their creativity out wide. It’s a tactic that worked well against Atletico Madrid and we expect the Reds to return to it here.
It relies on working a triangle between the full-back, the right-sided midfielder and the winger. It’s a safe bet that Trent Alexander-Arnold, Jordan Henderson and Mohamed Salah fill those roles once again.
Those three work space for one another before getting the ball into the box. the central and left-sided players instead focus on being targets and getting onto loose balls.
It’s why we’re seeing a different kind of Sadio Mane this season – and one who keeps scoring goals. Jota is much the same as a brilliant poacher to find.
And so as Liverpool almost certainly look wide against West Ham, Jota can be a threat. Arguably, he’s better-suited to this fixture than the injured Firmino.