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What To Expect? A Look At The 2021/22 Liverpool Squad: Diogo Jota

In this series I focus upon the 2021/22 season by providing a detailed look at members of the Liverpool First Team squad. Today, I conclude the series by focusing upon the Portuguese star, Diogo Jota. After an incredible debut season for the Red’s, Jota will look to kick on this year and become a leading player in not only the Liverpool setup but world football as well.

Liverpool headed into the 2020/21 season with minimal transfer activity (sounds familiar right). Yet in the space of one glorious weekend mid-September 2020, Liverpool expectedly signed Thiago Alcantara from Bayern Munich and then unexpectedly recruited Diogo Jota in a £41m move from Wolverhampton Wanderers

Big Michael Edwards had done it again!

Jota's first interview after signing, speaking to LFCTV about the Liverpool squad.

Jota's first interview after signing, speaking to LFCTV about the Liverpool squad.

The deal was so out of the blue that there was no time for the fans to contemplate and digest the value of such a signing. 

In truth, not much was known about Jota, and I am sure that if Liverpool fans were offered the chance to sign one of the then current crop of Wolves forwards, unanimously Adama Traore would have been the favourite. 

Anyhow, there remained a strange sense of excitement around Jota, he was young, league proven and had the potential to seamlessly fit into Klopp’s attacking line.

How right were our instincts, eh? Liverpool’s number 20 exceeded expectations last season and I will detail them in short, next.

Diogo Jota

Jota scoring the winner in a 2-1 victory over West Ham

The 2020/21 Roundup

A debut season to remember got off to an unbelievable start for the Portuguese Forward. Arriving on the 80-minute mark and the team 2-1 up against Arsenal, Jota made an immediate impact eight minutes into his debut by scoring a well-executed volley to pull the game away from Arsenal and securing a wonderful three points for the Reds. 

Jota’s fine start continued, in a run of four consecutive matches during October and November, two in the Premier League and two in the Champions League, he scored six goals. 

The highlight from these games and ultimately, Jota’s season, was a scintillating hattrick away at Atalanta. Playing as a centre-forward, this performance made the case for Jota to permanently feature in the Liverpool forward line, which had been long incumbent by Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino.

Unfortunately, the momentum was halted with regards to Jota’s season. After featuring in the dead rubber fixture vs FC Midtjylland, he picked up a severe knee injury

It was diagnosed as a bruised knee and would keep him out for almost three months, making his return at the start of March 2021, and finding the Liverpool team in complete disarray.

Diogo Jota scores against Arsenal

Off the bench, Jota heads home the opener against Arsenal in a 3-0 win, vital in securing Liverpool Champions League football.

Soon after Jota returned to the team, the Red’s fortunes turned. Despite featuring in the final two of Liverpool’s six game losing streak at Anfield, in the following matches he would contribute valuable goals away at former employers Wolverhampton Wanderers and London outfit Arsenal. 

The Portuguese man scored the only goal at Wolves and a brace off the bench at the Emirates. His final goal of the season would come away at Manchester United in a crucial 4-2 win for Liverpool

A foot injury would keep him away from the action in the final week of football as the Redmen miraculously secured Champions League football, thanks to a 10-game unbeaten run in the Premier League. This run was commenced by Jota’s winner at Wolves and he had more than played his part in securing Liverpool a top four spot.

Diogo Jota finished his first season at Anfield with an impressive 13 goals in 30 matches.

The 2021/22 Expectation

Diogo Jota

Jota scoring Liverpool's 1st goal of the 2021/22 season, in the 3-0 away win vs Norwich

So, what do I expect from Jota this coming season? In short, I expect him to be a pivotal member of our starting team and potential success this year. 

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Having already scored twice this season in the league, Jota certainly has not lost his instinct for getting goals. It will feel like a new beginning for him as well, this being his first season playing in front of a packed out Anfield and that is surely enough to elevate the level of any player in the world.

So, should he start ahead of Firmino? Ever since his arrival, there has been discussion about what Liverpool’s best front three looks like. 

Salah and Mane seem to be certain picks for Jurgen Klopp when available, which leaves only the centre-forward position up for grabs. 

Roberto Firmino celebrates against Burnley

Whilst some may argue Jota provides a greater goal threat than Firmino, others will argue that his link-up play severely lacks in comparison to the technically brilliant Brazilian. 

Within the fan base, it really is a sense of yin and yang in regards to which player they prefer. For me, this should only be viewed as a happy dilemma. 

Liverpool FC have four world-class options to choose from in the front line and whilst this may not be enough depth-wise, in itself, the four players form an attack, that has become one of the most feared in world football. 

James Ward-Prowse Diogo Jota

The option of Firmino or Jota does allow for Klopp to select a team best suited to expose an oppositions weakness. We have already witnessed this benefit this season. 

Jota’s exceptional movement proved well suited for Burnley’s defence whilst, before his injury, Firmino’s link up play and jump-back pressing proved tricky for Chelsea to handle.

Liverpool Players celebrate.

Jota opening the scoring in the 2-0 win vs Burnley this season. 

When it comes to the biggest games this season, I do still feel that the manager trusts Firmino’s awareness and sense of occasion ahead of Jota’s fox-in-the-box style. 

Having said this, since his arrival, Jota has had a knack of scoring vital goals and crucial moments. I expect him to be Liverpool’s second biggest goal threat behind the Egyptian King, Mo Salah and to also score memorable goals that will be long remembered on the terraces of the Kop. 

Mohamed Salah

It is clear that there are elements to his game that require improvement, the constant rumblings surrounding Jota’s first touch represents a frustration amongst the fan base. 

However, what Jota gives, that is truly priceless, is his ability to score goals out of seemingly nothing. Whilst his goals may not be the most aesthetically pleasing, it takes a special kind of player to have the awareness that Jota has, to sniff a chance in and around the six-yard box and finish it off. 

If I could compare him to a former Liverpool player, right now it would be Dirk Kuyt. Both men possess a tremendous engine which is extremely valuable in the press, whilst also occupying the most valuable instinct in football, the instinct to score goals. 

Kuyt became a Kop hero with many a decisive goal and I can only see Jota doing the same, this year and beyond.

I am excited by what Jota has to offer, the Portuguese man has the potential to become one of the greatest marksmen of this footballing era and a true icon of Liverpool Football Club.