Jamie Carragher has offered Jurgen Klopp his solution to what he sees as Liverpool’s ‘big problem’.
Carragher identified a lack of goalscorers as the most pressing issue facing the Reds, as he gave his verdict who should start between Diogo Jota and Roberto Firmino.
Both players made the starting line-up for Sunday’s 1-1 draw with Manchester City, with Jota having forced himself into Klopp’s thinking with seven goals already since switching from Wolves in September.
Jota is not the only player who has been scoring for fun, with Mohamed Salah having netted 10 in all competitions, and Sadio Mane a bit further behind on five.
But goals have been in short supply from elsewhere in the team, and Carragher says Liverpool are missing a Steven Gerrard-type player who scores from midfield.
And that’s the reason why the ex-Reds defender believes Jota should start over Firmino, who he reckons would benefit from a few games on the bench.
Jota’s recent form has placed Firmino’s regular starting position under threat – although both players were in the XI for Sunday’s 1-1 draw with Manchester City.
Firmino has not been the most prolific of scorers in the past couple of seasons, but brings so much more to Liverpool with his pressing, hold-up play and link-up play.
But Carragher says it’s Jota’s goals that the Reds need at the moment, so has backed the Portuguese ace to start at Firmino’s expense over the next few games.
Asked on talkSPORT who his first-choice front three would be at the moment, Carragher said: “Mane, Jota, Salah.”
Firmino has scored just once so far this season, while Virgil van Dijk’s knee injury means Liverpool are short of a threat from set-pieces.
And Carragher added: “The big problem Liverpool have – and this is why I would play Jota – Liverpool don’t have many goal-scorers in the team.
“Virgil van Dijk was a goal-scorer from set-pieces. The midfield three don’t score.
“There’s no Gerrard, Lampard figure in there who can get forward and score. The centre-forward isn’t scoring so you only really have Mane and Salah.
“If you add Jota into that team, I think you’re adding another goal-scorer so they have three players who can score goals and he can take the pressure from Mane and Salah.”
Carragher said Firmino could benefit from a break, adding: “He’s not in great form right now.
“That could change if Liverpool get to a final but I don’t think Firmino was in great form last season, even though Liverpool won the league – and when you win the league and win week after week, certain things get masked.
“Firmino didn’t score a home Premier League goal until the last game of the season against Chelsea.
“Liverpool fans are educated enough to know Firmino’s role in this team is not scoring goals. Their goal-scorers play wide in some ways so that makes them so much different.
“We know he can create, we know he wins the ball back and starts that press but even the actual pressing stats, I looked at them at the weekend, they’re not where they were.”
Carragher insisted Firmino still has plenty to offer Liverpool, and said Klopp will need the striker back on form at some point over the course of a long season.
“It doesn’t mean if he goes out and Jota starts, it’s the end of Firmino,” Carragher said. “He’s not playing well, you have ups and downs throughout your career. There might be an injury or someone else might drop out of form and you come back in.
“There’s so much pressure on him. Everyone is looking at Firmino going ‘is he going to bring him off, is he going to score today, is he this the game where his form changes?’
“Just leave him out, for the next three of four games, maybe bring him on. When you’re not playing well and you’re brought on, it’s hard to have a bad game coming on as a sub.
“You come on, you’re fresh, if the team lose, you weren’t picked and you could come on to change the game. Sometimes you build your confidence in that way.”
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