Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp is facing several selection dilemmas as his side return to Premier League action on Tuesday evening.
After sharing the spoils with league leaders Manchester City before beating them in the FA Cup semi-final on Saturday, the Merseyside outfit now host Manchester United at Anfield.
Sat just one point behind Pep Guardiola’s side, the Reds will need to keep the pressure mounting by delivering a performance of note against the fifth-placed Red Devils, who could also do with three points to bolster their top-four ambitions.
One of the predicaments facing the German head coach is what to do with Mohamed Salah, who has struggled for form in recent matches.
Indeed, the Egyptian winger has provided only one direct goal contribution in his last six appearances since his return from international duty, where he missed a penalty was knocked out of 2022 World Cup qualification by Sadio Mane’s Senegal.
It’s evident that his confidence has taken a serious knock, as a result, and it would be foolish to persist with him for the time being – even in the win over City at the weekend, he was disappointing.
As per SofaScore, he was graded as Liverpools’s joint lowest-rated player (6.3), having fired two of his three shots off target, made only 71% of his passes and spurned possession 13 times from only 38 touches. He also won just 23% of his battles up against the Citizens’ backline.
Salah, who has not scored for the Merseysiders in open play since February, is lucky to be in the side, according to former striker John Aldridge.
“If you’re going by form, Mo wouldn’t get in the team,” he told Sky Sports. “As good as he is, as great as he is, as much as we love him, on present form he’s struggling.”
Instead, Klopp ought to turn to the in-form Diogo Jota, who was named on the bench for Sunday’s clash and should be fresher than most after only featuring for the final five minutes plus stoppage time.
The £54m-rated forward is enjoying quite the season at Anfield, having found the net 21 times and provided four assists, via Transfermarkt. He has scored in each of Liverpool’s last three top-flight outings, including a strike in the 2-2 draw with City last time out.
Also capable of playing anywhere along the frontline, there won’t be a better candidate to fill the void that is currently left behind by an out-of-sorts Salah.
Once described as a “pressing monster” by assistant boss Pep Lijnders, Jota has been in much greater form than the 29-year-old since the international break.
Not only has he scored three goals, compared to Salah’s zero, but he also edges the charts for shots with the latter managing just the one effort against the league leaders.
Only a few weeks ago, Klopp waxed lyrical about the 25-year-old Portuguese, claiming that he was “growing into the top world-class striker role,” before later adding:
“It was always clear that Diogo is not a pure winger, Diogo is a striker who can play on the wing and defend the wing. Both wings, thank god.”
On the above evidence, the Liverpool boss should make the bold and brutal call to axe Salah in favour of Jota’s return to the starting XI, with Luis Diaz and Mane also available, there are plenty of different attacking options he can turn to for the wing positions.
The former Wolves gem, in this form, can absolutely terrify Ralf Rangnick’s United outfit – they’d probably welcome the sight of an out-of-form Salah right now, so Klopp must turn to Jota this evening.