Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino and Mo Salah are without a doubt one of the greatest attacking trios in Premier League history as well as in Europe. Their chemistry and understanding of each other’s movements on the pitch have been crucial in Liverpool‘s success under Jurgen Klopp.
However, Firmino has been less effective over the last two seasons and many think he lacks a cutting edge in attack. He has scored just nine times in the league in the last couple of seasons and if Liverpool want to challenge for the Premier League title again this could be an area where they look to improve.
Certainly, Klopp sets up his team in such a way that Firmino drops deep to help Salah and Mane score more freely, but recently with Mane’s dip in form and Firmino no longer being the playmaker he was, Liverpool have become over-reliant on Salah to score goals.
Liverpool need to bolster their goal-scoring options if they want to win the league for the 20th time. With a lack of transfer activity this window, Klopp might want to consider turning to his bench for Diogo Jota to take on the central position.
Signed last season from Wolves and predominantly a left-winger, Jota scored nine league goals last season even after spending a significant time injured.
Liverpool have started the Premier League season with two wins and a draw – Jota starting in both the victories. We look at some stats to find out if the 23-year-old is the correct man to replace the 29-year-old Brazilian.
Diogo Jota, above, scored in both the matches he started in the first eleven. He took seven shots in total with an xG of 0.45 per 90 keeping the majority of his shots on target.
Roberto Firmino, above, scored in the opening weekend against Norwich after coming off the bench, but since then he has not scored and attempted only one shot since then with an xG of 0.50 per 90. He did not manage a single shot against Chelsea before he was taken off due to a hamstring injury.
When looking at the above chart, the general rule is that the longer the bar the better the performance – you can see the league average in the middle and the % is the percentile rank the player is in.
With two goals in three matches, Jota ranks in the 94th percentile in the Premier League for goals per 90 with 0.89 goals per match. Also with 3.103 shots per 90, he ranks 80th in the league.
In a team like Liverpool which relies heavily on crosses, having a good header is important for a forward where Jota excels ranking 96th in the league with 2.217 headers attempted per 90. His spot jump and finishing is real smooth, his goal against Burnley speaks for itself. He nearly scored against Chelsea as well but his head went inches over the top bar.
With lesser team spent on the pitch this season , Firmino ranks 96th in the league with 1.02 goals per 90. He has been really poor when it comes to testing the goalkeeper as he has attempted 2.05 shots per 90 and 0 headers ranking 55th and 63rd percentile in the league respectively.
Jota has taken 7 shots, 6 times inside the box and once from outside but has never been shy of making the goalkeeper work , in turn scoring twice inside the box.
Except his goal inside the box against Norwich and a shot from the edge of the box against Burnley, Firmino has really struggled to get himself into good goal scoring positions.
Diogo Jota has played 90% of his passes in the opposition half which shows how much he likes to stay up front all the time trying to hunt down defenders and score goals. Being a winger turned forward he likes to drift towards the left-wing a lot of times, helping Mane to drift inside as the number 9 or even Salah at times while Mane stays out wide on the right. It confuses the other defence more and makes the front three less vulnerable to their markers.
We all know by now, how Klopp sets up his team and deploys Firmino to operate as a false nine. Firmino loves to drop deep into the midfield where he links up with the midfielders and the inside forwards trying to create chances for them. As we can see, he has played most of his passes through the centre. Firmino is clearly a better playmaker than Jota and has a higher xT from passes than him attempting a lot more through balls to find Salah and Mane. This philosophy of Klopp has been heavily successful in recent years.
Diogo Jota plays throughout the pitch which makes him harder to read and mark. He keeps on drifting out left and right.
While predominantly playing through the middle, it is easier to mark Firmino and mitigate his threat by cutting off his passing lines to Mane and Salah. But Bobby is an extremely intelligent player who uses his dribbling skills and general awareness to get the best of the situations and defenders.
Diogo Jota and Roberto Firmino are two very different types of players yet playing in the same position for Liverpool. If Liverpool want to outscore their opponents, Jota should be the first choice to start and if they want to dominate the ball and midfield, Firmino is more experienced with Jota having a lot of time to improve.
With forwards like Cristiano Ronaldo, Romelu Lukaku and Harry Kane in the league, Liverpool have to score a lot of goals to win the title and Jota is the better option to start most of the games of the two. However, if Sadio Mane gets his goalscoring form back and Firmino gets his gold playmaking touch back, there are only a few attacking trios as good as Mane-Firmino-Salah in the world, the Premier League for sure knows it well.