A former Anfield favorite thinks that in the final third when the Portuguese star plays, his old club carries a greater hazard.
According to Liverpool legend Jamie Carragher, who says Roberto Firmino “can only stay on the bench for three or four games,” Diogo Jota takes the burden off Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane.
Since moving to Anfield from Wolves for £41 million ($54 million) in September, Jota has made a hugely impressive start to his Liverpool career.
In his first 11 outings for the Reds, the 23-year-old has hit seven goals and is now fighting for a regular starting spot ahead of Firmino, who this season has only scored once in 12 appearances.
Jurgen Klopp took the bold decision to start both men at the Etihad Stadium on Sunday alongside Salah and Mane against Manchester City.
In the first 20 minutes of the match, Liverpool dominated and took a deserved lead through a Salah penalty, but on the half-hour mark, Gabriel Jesus hit an equaliser for the hosts and the game ended up finishing 1-1.
Carragher claims the time has come for Firmino to be absolutely dropped for Jota, with his conviction that the Brazilian is struggling in and out of possession to live up to his normal high expectations.
“Asked who at this moment in time is making up Klopp ‘s best front three, the former Reds defender told talkSPORT,” Mane, Jota, Salah.
Firmino isn’t in great shape right now, but if Liverpool reaches the final, that might change, but I don’t think he was in great shape last season either.
Even though Liverpool won the league, it masked many things. At home in the Premier League, Firmino did not score a goal until the last game against Chelsea.
Liverpool fans are sufficiently educated to know that the job of Firmino is not to score goals. The goal scorers of Liverpool play wide and they know they can make, win back the ball, and start the press. But even though last weekend I looked at his pressing figures, they’re not the numbers they normally are.
It doesn’t mean that this is the end of his career if he goes out and Jota goes in. He can only sit down for three or four games on the bench.
Carragher went on to express his opinion that in recent years, Liverpool lacked a player with Jota’s predatory instincts, with Salah and Mane forced to share the Premier League champions’ main goalscoring burden.
“It’s hard to have a poor game as a sub when you’re not playing well and you come on as a substitute,” he said.
The reason I was going to play Jota is that there aren’t many goal scorers in Liverpool.
Virgil van Dijk is a goalscorer from set-pieces, there’s no Gerrard or Lampard figure in there, the midfield three just don’t score. The forward-center isn’t scoring.
“If you put Jota in there, then the burden on Mane and Salah is taken away.”
On Klopp’s experimenting with a new formation against City, the former Liverpool center-back added: ‘I didn’t think it went terribly wrong. When I saw the squad, I felt like Liverpool was going to have huge problems, and [Kevin] De Bruyne was going to run the show.
Liverpool very well nullified his hazard, and that’s a credit to Mane and Jota.
For me, De Bruyne is the best Premier League player, and there’s hardly any room in the game for him.
He set the target three or four times he did, and set up Raheem Sterling for the best chance in the first half, and he had a couple of shots out of the net.
That is the best Liverpool ever played at the Etihad against City. Under Klopp, they lost 4-0 and 5-0, and in the pivotal title game, 2-1.
“While four attackers played for Liverpool, it was the best they’ve ever played defensively.”