How "brilliant" Diogo Jota has been crucial to Liverpool in Mohamed Salah's absence
In the Premier League clash, which saw the Reds emerge victorious with a 3-1 scoreline against Vincent Kompany's side, Jota showcased his deadly finishing by netting a crucial goal in the 31st minute.
The 27-year-old Portuguese international scored a powerful header from a corner delivered by Trent Alexander-Arnold.
Deployed on the right of a three-man in Jurgen Klopp's 3-2-2-3 setup, Jota has been a prolific player for Liverpool this season, tallying 14 goals and 3 assists in all competitions.
What did Dean Saunders say about Jota?
Saunders expressed his admiration for Jota's multifaceted abilities, highlighting his excellence both on the ground and in the air on talkSPORT (5:43 pm, February 10, 2024).
He said: “The more I watch Jota play, the more I like him. He could play in any team.
“He is a brilliant player. Honestly, he is so good. He is so good.
"He is brilliant with his feet, he is brilliant in the air, his all-round game is excellent.
"He is better in the air than his size.”
Despite Jota's consistent contributions, he often flies under the radar when discussing Liverpool's standout performers.
However, his significance to Klopp's side cannot be overlooked.
While Salah, Alisson, Trent and Virgil often dominate the spotlight, Jota is a consistent and efficient operator who has been a key player in Salah's absence during AFCON and his his recent hamstring injury (which he will soon return from).
A closer look at Diogo Jota's scintillating recent form
However, his importance to Klopp's side goes far beyond just the basic stats like goals and assists.
Jota's contributions are best evaluated in three important categories: Attacking, counter-pressing and consistency.
So, we know Jota has scored 14 goals this season and has three assists as well.
But where does he rank for attacking metrics?
Compared to other attackers in Europe, Jota is not just considered one of the very best.
He really is one of the best.
According to data from Fbref, Jota ranks in the 99th percentile for non-penalty goals. He averages a non-penalty goal every 0.77 games which is sensational.
Especially when you consider his minutes. With 17 total goal contributions from 1530 minutes this season, he is involved in a goal or assist every 90 minutes.
There's a reason Jota was labelled a pressing monster by Pepijn Lijnders during pre-season in 2021.
The assistant coach was writing in his training camp diary when he wrote: “We are just arriving up into the mountain for our team dinner while I’m writing.
“Probably schnitzel again, but that’s not bad at all. While I’m sitting here and writing, Diogo just shook me ‘awake’ saying hello. It’s great to see him – fresh, fit and ready.
“Our pressing monster just arrived! Haha!”
He has more than lived up to that description with his relentless defensive work rate.
Per Fbref, he averages 4.23 ball recoveries per game which isn't much less than Wataru Endo (6.41).
Jota is deadly in front of goal but he's also managed to do perform at a consistent rate since making the move to Anfield in 2020.
His stats since then have underlined the £45 million decision the Reds made to sign him from Wolves.
Diogo Jota's goals and assists since his final season at Wolves:
In his last five seasons, Jota has a total of 71 and 26 assists.
Or a total of 97 goal contributions.
And that total will only increase as the Reds are still competing on all fronts.
Without Jota, Liverpool would have seriously battled to remain in the Premier League title race in Mohamed Salah's absence but thanks, in part, to the diminutive Portuguese forward, the Reds are at the top of the tree.
With Salah set to return from injury, Liverpool will look to maintain their title charge with Manchester City set to visit the newly redeveloped Anfield in March.