Liverpool survived an early scare to bounce back to winning ways against Aston Villa at Villa Park on Tuesday night, having been held to a draw by Antonio Conte’s Tottenham Hotspur side just a few days prior.
Manager Jurgen Klopp had been critical of Spurs’ defensive showing in that clash at Anfield, although the same could not be said of Steven Gerrard’s outfit, with the Midlands side netting inside just three minutes in what was a breathless start to proceedings.
After recovering quickly to strike back soon after through Joel Matip, the Reds completed the comeback midway through the second half through Sadio Mane, the Senegal international’s strike moving the Merseysiders level on points with Manchester City at the summit, albeit with the reigning champions having played a game less.
The headlines will no doubt go to that man Mane for his crucial late effort – which keeps the club’s title hopes alive – although one man who endured an uncharacteristically anonymous showing was former Wolverhampton Wanderers forward Diogo Jota, with the Portuguese sensation suffering a rare off day.
The £54m-rated man has enjoyed a fine second campaign under Klopp’s tutelage, having netted 21 times in all competitions so far this term prior to the midweek clash, although rarely looked like adding to that tally following a limp display in attack.
In his 90-minute outing, the £120k-per-week star lost possession 14 times from just 42 touches – a dismal ratio of losing the ball once every three touches – ensuring he finished with just a 72% pass completion rate as a result.
The 25-year-old also won just two of his total duels and failed to register a single shot on target, eventually ending the match with just a 6.6 match rating, as per SofaScore – the second-worst among his teammates in the starting lineup.
Furthermore, he also made fewer passes (23) than substitute Jordan Henderson who played just an hour after Fabinho’s withdrawal through injury.
The Express writer Archie Griggs was also critical of the one-time Porto man’s performance, handing the player a 5/10 rating in his post-match analysis and stating of his display that: “Often managed to get himself into some promising areas and played a role for his team in attack but, like so many of his team-mates, appeared to lack the required end product over the course of the contest. Pressed well in the early stages of the match but ended up faltering away and did not exert as great an influence as he would have liked at Villa Park.”
A poor night in what’s largely been an otherwise fruitful stint at Liverpool – with 34 goals and nine assists to his name in 80 appearances across all fronts since joining in the summer of 2020 – the 24-cap international will likely be hoping he hasn’t played himself out of contention for Saturday’s FA Cup final showdown with Chelsea.
With Mo Salah set to return after earning a rest on Tuesday night – and with Roberto Firmino back in contention after his recent injury layoff – there is simply too much competition for places to allow for any passengers.
Jota seemingly was a passenger against Gerrard’s men and will be fortunate not to be dropped to the bench at Wembley.