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Jurgen Klopp will drop Diogo Jota to bring Roberto Firmino back into the fold.
That is the view of Liverpool legend John Barnes, who believes that the former Borussia Dortmund boss will pick between the two forwards depending on the skill of the opposition.
The new arrival from Wolves smashed home a Champions League hat-trick in midweek to see off the threat of Atalanta, and had been tipped to start alongside Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah at the Etihad.
Barnes doesn’t believe that will be the case, and mentioned the possession game of Pep Guardiola.
In a chat with talkSPORT, Barnes said: “Jota scored a hat-trick, but that doesn’t mean he automatically goes into the team against Man City. I think who plays depends on what the games are and who they’re against and how that team plays.
“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, then 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.
“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.
“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!”
Klopp launched onto the defensive when questions over Firmino’s place in the team arose earlier this week, despite the Brazilian only managing one goal in 11 appearances to Jota’s seven in 10.
He said: “But the world is sometimes a bad place that in a moment when someone is shining we speak immediately about another player. Who it feels like played for us 500 games in a row.
“We wouldn’t be in the Champions League if Bobby Firmino is not with us. And now I have to explain why he is not in the team? He will be in the team. It is important we have more than 11 and tonight Diogo played a super game."
- Liverpool FC
- Premier League
- Jurgen Klopp
- Mohamed Salah
- Sadio Mane
- Champions League
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