Liverpool returned to action after the international break with a 3-0 win over Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium. Two goals from Diogo Jota and a Mohamed Salah strike secured the three points for the Merseyside club.
It was an excellent performance from the away side and a much needed three points, with top four rivals Chelsea and Tottenham dropping points over the weekend. With the win against the Gunners, the Reds closed the gap on fourth place to two points, instilling fresh hope in their quest for a Champions League place.
Diogo Jota was a surprise omission from the starting XI after scoring three goals for the Portuguese national team in the recent World Cup qualifiers. Jürgen Klopp cited the fact that the No.20 had played “really intense games for Portugal” as the reasoning behind his decision to leave the in-form forward on the bench.
It wouldn’t be until the hour mark when Reds fans would see the former Wolves man take to the field at the Emirates and when he did make his overdue entrance, his impact was noticed instantly.
Four minutes after the forward had come on, Trent Alexander-Arnold picked the ball up from Salah on the right and swung in an exceptional cross, accurately searching out the unmarked Jota, who planted his header beyond the helpless Bernd Leno in goal.Embed from Getty Images
The 24-year-old’s influence on the match wouldn’t end there, as he notched his second of the game in the closing stages.
After capitalizing on an Arsenal mistake at the back, the Reds picked up the ball with Alexander-Arnold, who swiftly distributed it to the feet of Salah. The Egyptian would accurately find Sadio Mané inside the area before the Senegalese international miscontrolled. This would work in Liverpool’s favour, as the ball rolled kindly for the onrushing Jota to smash home from eight yards out.
While it was Fabinho who was deservedly awarded the man-of-the-match by Sky Sports’ Gary Neville, though it was certainly the introduction of Jota which ultimately made the difference and swung the final result in the Reds’ favour.
The half-hour performance by the Portuguese has now left Klopp with a big decision regarding his team selection against Real Madrid. Will the boss opt to use all four of his main attacking options and, if not, who misses out?
Jota should be able to rest easy as his goal-scoring form in recent weeks should secure his starting spot against the Spanish giants.
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