Football

Souness expects Jota to replace Firmino in Liverpool's starting XI

Former Liverpool manager Graeme Souness has tipped Diogo Jota to displace Roberto Firmino from the Reds' starting line-up, after the summer signing's winner in a 2-1 victory over West Ham United yesterday morning (Singapore time).

Jota, 23, came off the bench for Firmino and scored his third goal in as many games, after Mohamed Salah had levelled from the penalty spot in the first half following Pablo Fornals' opener for the visitors.

Jota, who joined Liverpool from Wolverhampton Wanderers in the summer, has now bagged four goals in nine games in all competitions, while Firmino, 29, has managed only one in 10 games.

"I would imagine pretty quickly Jota will be challenging Firmino for a starting spot," said Sky Sports pundit Souness.

"He's got goals, he got a goal in what every three games at Wolves. And now he's in a better team, so that should improve. I like him a lot, 23-years-old, he can only do better."

Another pleasing aspect of Jota's winner for Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp was that it reflected their ability to stage comebacks. The win over the Hammers was the champions' third from going behind in seven English Premier League games this season.

"Obviously, I loved the second goal. It was super play. Shaq's (Xherdan Shaqiri) in incredible form at the moment, and Diogo Jota obviously," said Klopp.

The German also hailed the no-nonsense defending from Nathaniel Phillips, after the 23-year-old centre-back was thrust into the starting side for his league debut, in the absence of injured seniors Virgil van Dijk, Joel Matip and Fabinho.

"He's a brilliant guy, a smart guy, intelligent, everything," Klopp told the BBC.

"In the air, he's a monster and he loves having challenges on the pitch. He was incredible for his first game." - REUTERS, AFP

Football