While Liverpool’s front three has been misfiring, Diogo Jota has been sorely missed.
While the headlines have often surrounded Liverpool’s problems in defence, it’s in attack where they’re really struggling. Sunday’s draw against Manchester United was the third premier league game in a row, where the Premier League champions have failed to score. Their front three is seriously underperforming.
Where they were once unpredictable, they’ve now become pedestrian. Part of this is down to the service they’re receiving. However, it’s impossible to say Liverpool’s fit attackers have been performing at their best in recent matches.
Against Manchester United, the home side took 17 shots with only three finding the target. In fact, in their last four matches, the Reds have only scored one goal from 6.43 expected goals. This sort of form in front of goal is not the mark of defending champions. This is where they’re desperately missing Diogo Jota. The Portuguese has never been shot-shy, taking 3.57 shots per 90, but it’s his conversion rate that’s been frightening.
Scoring at a current rate of 0.89 goals per 90 minutes, he has been ruthless in front of goal for the Reds. He’s also finding the target with 55% of his shots finding the target, averaging almost two shots on target per 90 minutes. If he keeps those sort of numbers up, with the finishing he’s displayed, he’ll provide a great source of goals on return to fitness.
Roberto Firmino by contrast is only finding the target with 37% of his shots. Of course, Roberto Firmino is still an excellent footballer, but it’s clear his shooting just isn’t on the same level as Jota’s this season. Jota’s presence also gives Jurgen Klopp a greater degree of flexibility in attack.
Xherdan Shaqiri has performed well when called upon this season. However, he doesn’t have the same dynamism as Jota, or indeed Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane on the wings in a 4-3-3. Jota, on the other hand, can easily rotate with them and give them some much-needed rest.
Of course, the return of the 24-year-old is not a cure-all for the problems facing Liverpool. However, the sooner Jurgen Klopp can call upon the Portuguese international, the better for him and Liverpool.