Klopp opens up on Liverpool's push for a quadruple
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Liverpool kept their title bid on track by edging to a nervy 2-0 win over Watford on Saturday evening – a result that briefly nudged them ahead of Manchester City in the Premier League table. Unfortunately, Pep Guardiola’s side swiftly reclaimed their perch at the summit of the league with a 2-0 win over Burnley.
Diogo Jota was the hero for Jurgen Klopp’s side, bravely nodding home the opening goal to help settle the anxious Anfield crowd down. But the Hornets refused to give up and were still in with a shout of pinching a share of the spoils until Fabinho netted a late, late penalty.
But it was Jota who stole the headlines for the Reds in the wake of a subdued showing from their main man, Mohamed Salah. Jota has already stepped up to the plate for Liverpool this season when Salah and Sadio Mane were absent due to their commitments at the Africa Cup of Nations.
Almost two years on from his surprise move from Wolves, Jota has developed a deft knack for bagging important goals – despite Jamie Redknapp previously expressing doubts over Jota’s suitability for a traditional striking role.
Redknapp shared his concerns at the start of the season by claiming Jota didn’t suit the traditional No 9 role – despite the fact he bagged a goal during the Reds’ 3-0 win over Norwich. He told Sky Sports back in August: “Jota gets a little bit of luck and he slips in behind Hanley [for his goal]. The goalkeeper has to do better as well. He tries to anticipate it and he goes to one side. Jota hasn’t been at his best. I don’t think it suits him as an out and out number nine but he’s got his goal and he’ll be delighted with that.”
Unfortunately for the former Liverpool midfielder, his verdict hasn’t particularly aged well. Jota already quashed any doubts over his £42million price tag with his fine debut season on Merseyside, but the ex-Wolves man has evolved into one of the Reds’ premier players this year and a real fox in the box.
And after breaking up Liverpool’s ‘untouchable’ front three, the 26-year-old has even gone on to transcend the likes of Mane and Salah on occasions this year. Saturday’s all-important goal against the Hornets was further evidence of that, as Liverpool’s main for the big occasion came up trumps again.
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Jota’s astute header was his 14th Premier League goal of the season; a tally that only his Anfield colleague, Salah, can better. And he’s also the leading goalscorer of headers in the league, with his opening goal against the Hornets his fourth this term.
His display left Rio Ferdinand and Gianfranco Zola – who covered the game for BT Sport – purring. As the pair assessed his goal, Ferdinand said: “That’s an unbelievable run. He’s top goal scorer for headers in the Premier League this season. That’s unbelievable and he was brave to get his head in there.”
And Zola went one further, paying Jota the ultimate compliment by adding: “He’s one of the cleverest players in the whole of the Premier League.”
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