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Despite Diogo Jota’s Form “Firmino Will Be a Better Bet” Against Manchester City

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Former Red John Barnes expects Roberto Firmino to come back into the starting eleven against City on Sunday.

Liverpool v Sheffield United - Premier League Photo by John Powell/Liverpool FC via Getty Images

Having started mid-week in the Champions League against Atalanta and scoring a hat-trick makes Diogo Jota the man in form for Liverpool, more so even than wide stars Sadio Mané or Mohamed Salah and more than the man he started in place of, Roberto Firmino.

For some, that makes him a lock to start on Sunday against Manchester City, but form won’t be the only thing on manager Jürgen Klopp’s mind according to former Red John Barnes, who believes Firmino will come back into the starting eleven to face City on the weekend.

“Jota scored a hat-trick, but that doesn’t mean he automatically goes into the team against Man City,” Barnes said in an appearance on TalkSport earlier this week. “I think who plays depends on what the games are and who they’re against and how that team plays.

“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 defensive work. If you’re playing against Atalanta or Leeds, then you can see Jota coming in.”

It’s also possible that based on fitness and the tactical particulars Klopp has in mind, Jota could remain in the eleven in place of Salah or Mané. Though regardless of the manager’s decision on Sunday, Barnes is certain there will be plenty of chances for all this season.

With Liverpool likely to play close to 60 games if they make it deep in Europe and the FA Cup and the season compressed due to coronavirus, the dual pressures of schedule and tactical fit will likely lead to more rotation then in the past—and in fact, it already has.

“I think Klopp will chop and change this season,” he added. “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 can now come into the team and take over from any of the players up front.”