'World-class' Liverpool striker Jota is 'on fire' - Klopp

By Sports Desk January 20, 2022

Diogo Jota was "on fire" against Arsenal and Jurgen Klopp took it as evidence he has become a "world-class" attacker at Liverpool. 

Liverpool spent £41million to sign Jota from Wolves in September 2020 and he has provided stiff competition for Roberto Firmino. 

The Portugal international took his tally for the Reds to 27 in 57 appearances with a double in the EFL Cup semi-final second leg against the Gunners on Thursday, clinching a 2-0 aggregate win that set up a meeting with Chelsea at Wembley in February. 

Despite only playing two games for Liverpool at Emirates Stadium he is already the club's top scorer at the ground with four goals, while he has five in his past four appearances against Arsenal in all competitions. 

Jota stepped up to play a decisive role with Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah away on international duty at the Africa Cup of Nations, but it came as no surprise for Klopp. 

"The mood in the dressing room is that we are over the moon. It was a difficult game, difficult time in general … but what the boys did tonight against this really strong Arsenal side was absolutely exceptional," Klopp told Sky Sports. 

"First half, Arsenal were pretty lively, then we calmed it down, played good football and created not plenty but quality efforts were not so easy. The second half was pretty similar. 

"We scored two wonderful goals, I have to say. Wow, Diogo Jota on fire. But the passes were – on the first goal it was super play and the second one, I don't think a lot of people in the stadium saw Diogo in that position but Trent saw it, which was helpful. Then he finished it off. Absolutely outstanding. 

"We were completely convinced when he arrived at the club that he would help us massively. Nowadays you can watch 100 games if you want [before signing a player], so we were really comfortable. 

"Since he is here, he has made another step. It's helpful. He has just turned into a really world-class striker." 

Arsenal hit the bar through Alexandre Lacazette in the opening period and the France international missed a great chance to work Caoimhin Kelleher early in the second half. 

The Gunners' were left with a bitter taste when Thomas Partey picked up two bookings in three minutes after returning from AFCON duty earlier in the day.

Arsenal have had a player sent off in three of their past four games – none of which have ended in victory – and have received a total of 14 red cards in all competitions since Mikel Arteta took over in December 2019. No other Premier League side has received more than eight.

"We are really disappointed but we played against a top side. We had big moments in both halves and we have to score," said Arteta. 

"We had chances and were pushing for the game but we have to convert if we were to beat a team like Liverpool. 

"I have no regrets [about sending Partey on]. I cannot use him now, so it is what it is. He made the effort to come ... we had to make a decision and we decided to use him and unfortunately that happened.

"We have played the last three games with 10 men and at this level it is extremely difficult to win like that. I am proud of the boys and how committed they were without any training sessions." 

Related items

  • Under-pressure Xavi says he still has Barcelona's trust Under-pressure Xavi says he still has Barcelona's trust

    Barcelona coach Xavi says he still has the club's trust, despite a steady stream of media reports president Joan Laporta may be minded to sack him.

    "I understand the noise but that changes nothing," Xavi told reporters on Saturday after a training session ahead of his side's game against Rayo Vallecano.

    The manager added that his focus was on winning the three points and "the team has an extraordinary base to compete."

    "We'll sit down with the president and if we have to talk about anything, we'll do that," he said about rumours of Laporta's loss of confidence in him. 

    "But everything is the same as it was three weeks ago. If there are any changes we'll let you know."

    Despite being a club great and winning LaLiga last season, Xavi has been under pressure this campaign after Barcelona failed to catch Real Madrid, who have already secured the title.

    In January, Xavi said he would resign at the end of this season, but last month he sat down with club officials and agreed to honour the last year of his contract until mid-2025 - with a series of unspecified conditions set by the club.

    However, Xavi told reporters on Thursday that the club's situation is difficult, especially in economic terms, and it was tough to compete with the likes of Madrid, in comments that reportedly angered Laporta.

    The club has a bloated wage bill, while a $1.6 billion euro ($1.7 billion) renovation project is also underway at the Camp Nou stadium.

  • ​Houston Dynamo FC v FC Dallas: Estevez hopes to take advantage of 'great opportunity' ​Houston Dynamo FC v FC Dallas: Estevez hopes to take advantage of 'great opportunity'

    Nico Estevez considers FC Dallas' trip to Houston Dynamo FC a "great opportunity" for his side to lay down a real marker.

    Dallas defeated Austin FC 2-1 last time out and have now taken seven points from the last nine on offer on home soil.

    Away from home, however, they have taken just one point from a possible 15 this season, with Estevez now after points plus performances in his side's fourth Copa Tejas outing of the campaign.

    "I think the team is working well," he said. "They are energetic and we are improving both in results and the level of play.

    "We have to continue growing. This game is a great opportunity to do so away from home; to be able to achieve something more than just points and to be able to achieve something important that will help us.

    "We are going to have to do many things well to be able to win against a rival as important as Houston."

    The Dynamo went down 1-0 to Austin late on in midweek, placing them eighth in the Western Conference and six points better off than their next opponents, having played a game more.

    Houston have scored the fewest goals of any side in the West (11), which head coach Ben Olsen acknowledged is down to a lack of quality in front of goal.

    "It's decision making and quality in the moment," he said at his pre-match press conference. 

    "It's not for the lack of getting in dangerous areas on the field. Checking boxes, you don't need a 2.0 expected goals to win games."

    PLAYERS TO WATCH

    Houston Dynamo - Amine Bassi

    The Dynamo had 17 shots against Austin without finding the net, six of which were on target - and three of those via Bassi alone.

    Bassi's 1.8 shots per game is bettered only by Ibrahim Aliyu (2.5) this season among Houston players, yet he has registered zero goals thus far. That is something that must be put right.

    FC Dallas - Petar Musa

    Musa played a part in both of Dallas' goals in their victory over Austin, as he scored the opener himself and then assisted Jesus Ferreira for what proved to be the decisive goal.

    The Croatia international has now contributed to five of Dallas' last seven MLS goals - three goals and two assists - meaning he is the man for Houston to stop.

    MATCH PREDICTION: HOUSTON WIN

    Houston's loss to Austin was their fourth defeat in their past seven league matches, compared to just two losses across their previous 17 outings dating back to last July.

    Dallas have won three of their past four games in all competitions, meanwhile, having won just three out of 17 prior to this upturn in form. 

    However, not since November 2020 have Dallas won three successive games across all competitions, while the home team in this fixture is unbeaten in the last 20 encounters between these sides - albeit 11 of those ending all square.

    OPTA WIN PROBABILITY

    Houston - 42.2%
    Draw - 29.3%
    Dallas - 28.5%

  • Newcastle 'determined to finish on a high' at Brentford, Howe insists Newcastle 'determined to finish on a high' at Brentford, Howe insists

    Eddie Howe says Newcastle United are "determined to finish on a high" when they travel to Brentford on the final day.

    The Magpies, who are seventh in the Premier League, travel to the Gtech Community Stadium still in the hunt to secure European football for a second successive season.

    Howe's side trail sixth-place Chelsea by three points but, boasting a superior goal difference, can leapfrog the Blues if they beat Brentford and Mauricio Pochettino's men lose at home to Bournemouth.

    The Newcastle head coach knows their destiny is not in their hands, but urged his players to be ready to pounce.

    "It's a big last day for us, there's no denying that," he told reporters during his pre-match press conference. "We go into game knowing we have to do our part, which is win the game.

    "That is no mean feat, it's going to be a tough game, and then we're in the hands of other clubs.

    "The players are determined to finish on a high. We could have got more from the last two games and we didn't.

    "We have to do everything we can to do our part. What we don't want to do is for the other teams to make a mistake and we're not there to capitalise on it."

    Meanwhile 16th-place Brentford, who can climb to 15th by bettering Everton's result at title-chasing Arsenal, are set to finish in the bottom six - their lowest final position in the Premier League. 

    Although Thomas Frank admits his sights are set on achieving bigger and better with the Bees, the head coach insists it has been a fruitful campaign with the club's top-flight status assured for another year at least.

    "This season has been a good success," he said. "Every year you are in the Premier League is a success if you are a club of our stature. I just hate saying that because we want so much more.

    "We want to be an asset to the league, we want to dream big and we want to do something special. But I am an optimistic person, I am positive, and I believe so much in this club. 

    "The culture is good. There's a good atmosphere. We are pulling in the same direction, we are aligned."

    PLAYERS TO WATCH

    Brentford - Bryan Mbeumo

    Mbeumo has been directly involved in more goals than any other Brentford player in the Premier League this season with 15 (nine goals, six assists).

    That is despite the winger playing just 24 of the Bees' 37 matches during the campaign.

    Newcastle United - Anthony Gordon

    Gordon has had a hand in two goals (one goal, one assist) in Newcastle's last two away games, taking his overall tally of direct goal involvements for the season to 21 (11 goals, 10 assists).

    With Alexander Isak also boasting 21 involvements (20 goals, one assist), it marks the first time two Magpies players have reached that mark in a Premier League campaign since 1996-97, when Alan Shearer (25 goals, seven assists) and Les Ferdinand (16 goals, eight assists) achieved the feat.

    MATCH PREDICTION: NEWCASTLE UNITED

    Newcastle have prevailed in each of the last four meetings between the sides, and are unbeaten in all five Premier League encounters.

    Brentford have only faced Crystal Palace (six) more in the competition without ever winning than against the Magpies (five).

    Newcastle have lost their final league game in just one of the last nine seasons (winning seven, drawing one), with that sole defeat coming against champions Liverpool in 2019-20.

    The Magpies are also unbeaten on each of the last six occasions they have finished a league season in London (winning five, drawing one).

    You must go back to a 3-2 reverse at Tottenham on the final day of the 1972-73 campaign for their last such defeat.

    OPTA WIN PROBABILITY

    Brentford - 37%
    Newcastle United - 34.9%
    Draw - 28.1%

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.