Diogo Jota should not replace Roberto Firmino for Liverpool’s clash vs Manchester City, claims John Barnes


Diogo Jota has been in sublime form since joining Liverpool (AFP via Getty Images)

John Barnes insists Diogo Jota should not automatically replace Roberto Firmino in Liverpool’s starting XI for their clash with Manchester City this weekend.

Jota has hit the ground running since joining the Premier League champions in a £45 million deal from Wolves this summer with seven goals in all competitions.

The Portuguese netted his first hat-trick for Liverpool in the 5-0 win over Atalanta in the Champions League on Tuesday evening.

But despite his impressive performance, Barnes feels Firmino should spearhead Liverpool’s attack against Pep Guardiola’s side on Sunday.

‘Jota scored a hat-trick, but that doesn’t mean he automatically goes into the team against Man City,’ Barnes told talkSPORT.

‘I think who plays depends on what the games are and who they’re against and how that team plays.

Diogo Jota scored a hat-trick in Liverpool’s 5-0 win over Atalanta in the Champions League (AFP via Getty)

‘Against Man City, where you’re not going to have as much possession, maybe Firmino will be a better bet. You need a player like Bobby Firmino to not only get hold of the ball but also do his defensive work.

‘If you’re playing a game against Atalanta or Leeds, a more open team, they you can see Jota coming in.

‘It’s the same with Thiago, If you play Man City you won’t necessarily play Thiago, you play Wijnaldum, Henderson and Fabinho who are much stronger defensively.

‘I think Klopp will chop and change this season, and I don’t think it’s a reflection on who he feels is better, it’s more about who they are playing against.

‘The good thing about it is Jota and Thiago can now come into the team and take over from any of the players in midfield or up front and do a great job, and that’s what you want.’

Roberto Firmino is now under pressure to keep his place in Liverpool’s starting XI (Getty)

Barnes also believes that Firmino should not be solely judged on his goalscoring record with the Brazilian scoring just once in 10 appearances this season.

‘Will Firmino’s lack of goals cost him? Well, the reason why Mane and Salah score as many goals as they do is because of the way Bobby plays,’ said Barnes.

‘Now, if Jota plays maybe Salah and Mane, although they both scored last night, might not score as many goals.

‘So I don’t think goalscoring is necessarily what he’s in the team to do. As much as people may say, ‘Firmino is Liverpool’s main striker’, the main goalscorers are Mane and Salah and Firmino gives much more than that.

‘If we can finish 20-odd points ahead of everyone else and he doesn’t score goals, I’ll be having that all day long, and so would Jurgen.’

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