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    Thursday, 5 November 2020

    Jurgen Klopp right about Roberto Firmino but Liverpool cannot ignore Diogo Jota for Man City

    Klopp says Firmino has "played what feels like 500 games in a row" - so is it time for Jota at Man City?

    Roberto Firmino and Diogo Jota.

    For many, it was viewed as the perfect type of problem for Jurgen Klopp.

    With Diogo Jota in form, the Liverpool boss suddenly has a real dilemma ahead of Sunday's visit to Manchester City.

    Does the Reds manager keep faith with his free-scoring Portuguese for the always-pivotal game with City, or does he go with his tried and trusted by returning Roberto Firmino to the fold?

    It is the archetypal selection headache, one might say.

    Klopp himself, however, is insisting he does not need the aspirin just yet.

    "Good performances never give me a headache!" he said after watching Jota bag his first hat-trick in Liverpool red against Atalanta on Tuesday night.

    "Tonight the decision was clear, it made sense first of all to use the good shape Diogo was in, and secondly because of the way Atalanta plays and defends, we should use the skillset of Diogo to help us."

    Klopp was right to espouse the virtues of his £45million summer signing.

    Jota is Liverpool's form man right now, having blasted in seven goals already since making his debut six weeks ago.

    His willingness to run with the ball, ability to use both feet comfortably and desire to prove he is - to borrow a Pep Lijnders phrase - "a pressing monster" are all ideal qualities to perform in Liverpool's attacking system.

    So far, the Portuguese is proving he fits like a glove. Another feather in the cap of the recruitment team at Anfield.

    But, with this being football, Klopp was unable to detail his happiness with the new man without being asked about the one he replaced on Tuesday night.

    Surely, it was asked, the ongoing individual success of Jota would be at a detriment to Firmino's hopes of leading the Liverpool line going forward?

    Klopp felt no need to equate the two respective situation.

    "The world is sometimes a bad place, that in the moment when somebody is shining we immediately speak about another player who played what feels like 500 games in a row," he said.

    "Without Bobby Firmino, we would not be in the Champions League even.

    "He will be in the team, and for a lot of people in the world if you ask them ‘what makes Liverpool special?’ they would say ‘the way Bobby Firmino is playing’.

    “For us it is important that we have more than 11.

    "Tonight, Diogo played a super, super game but that says nothing about Bobby, and has nothing to do with me causing headaches.

    "I am more than happy that the boys played like they played tonight."

    If Klopp is broadly correct about the two players and how they will be both needed across this season and beyond, there is a big call on the horizon now for the Liverpool manager.

    Jota or Firmino for the game at Man City?

    Breaking up a front three that has scored a combined total of 268 goals between them during their respective Liverpool careers may, on first glance, seem like a risky move at the home of your closest on-field rivals.

    But a second look at the numbers suggests the decision to opt for Jota ahead of Brazil striker Firmino could be beneficial for all concerned.

    After all, Jota's seven goals as a Liverpool player is more than the five Firmino has managed across the whole of 2020.

    That bottom line is unlikely to overly concern Klopp, given Firmino's role in the team is to the grease the track for Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane rather than tear down it himself.

    But there can be no denying that Firmino has at times this season cut a jaded figure who is in need of a rest.

    Klopp, whether inadvertent or intentionally, suggested as much himself with the claim that Firmino had "played what feels like 500 games in a row".

    Perhaps now then is the time to gently offer a chance to rest and recharge the batteries via a watching brief this weekend?

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