The Reds legend feels that Jurgen Klopp will give the Brazilian forward another opportunity to lead the line during a trip to Manchester City
Roberto Firmino will remain the go-to option for Liverpool in big games, says Jamie Carragher, with the forward expected to get the nod over “pressing monster” Diogo Jota for a trip to Manchester City.
Jurgen Klopp is in the process of weighing up his options to fill a number nine role at the Etihad Stadium.
Brazil international Firmino has been his favoured choice throughout a successful spell at Anfield, with the South American’s unselfish nature making him a key component for the Premier League champions.
His position has, however, come under threat from summer signing Jota, with the free-scoring Portuguese enjoying a productive run in front of goal.
Many have suggested that the time has come for a change to be made in the middle of Liverpool’s front three, with Firmino having looked a little out of sorts for a while, but Carragher believes Klopp will stick with his tried and trusted for another clash with fellow title hopefuls.
The Reds legend told Sky Sports: “Jota’s form warrants a start, you can’t argue about that, but I just think the manager will go back to Firmino, the way they’ve set up before.
“I think Firmino this season, he’s not been at his best, there’s no doubt. I don’t think he was at his best last season. But they’ve always performed in the big games – Everton, Arsenal, Chelsea. That’s when teams play out from the back and that’s when Bobby Firmino is a huge part of that press and winning the ball back and almost not letting teams get out of their own half.
“That was certainly the case in those three games I mentioned, those teams really struggled to get through the press of Liverpool.
“I think Jurgen Klopp will know that Man City want to play out from the back and he’ll go with his pressing machine. There’s no doubt Jota can do this as well, ‘he’s a pressing monster’, that was the description of him from Pep Lijnders, Jurgen Klopp’s assistant, so there’s no worries about him on that score.
“But I just think for this game and the type of game it will be and the fact that Bobby has played so many games against Man City and Liverpool have had success in those games, I just think he’ll go back to that.”
The other big selection call facing Klopp comes at the heart of his back four, with Virgil van Dijk missing for several months with knee ligament damage and Fabinho another of those stuck on the sidelines.
Academy graduates Nat Phillips and Rhys Williams have made the most of their opportunities to impress as cover, but Joel Matip is back in contention after shaking off an injury of his own and the 29-year-old could make his first appearance since a Merseyside derby date with Everton on October 17.
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“I think he’ll go with Matip, the big-game experience, and he wasn’t shy in putting him straight in against Everton, as well, another tough game for Liverpool away from home,” Carragher added.
“The only thing is fitness and playing games, but I don’t think that’s ever really been a problem for Matip because he’s injured so often he’s always in that position where he’s coming back without having had the full training programme or games under his belt or a pre-season because he is very injury prone.
“I actually think Matip has possibly been ready for the last game or two and the manager has almost kept him in reserve for the City game and making sure he’s got two recognised senior centre-backs for that City game. I fully expect Matip to play in this game.”