Out of all the impressive performances in Liverpool's 2-0 win over Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium on Sunday, one was a little more predictable than others.
Diogo Jota came off the bench to grab the assist for Luis Diaz's late clincher, which sealed the Reds' passage to the FA Cup fourth round. The Portuguese also hit the bar with a header during his cameo and was a general nuisance to the home defence playing down the middle of the attack.
Speaking after the game, Jurgen Klopp claimed Jota is still being eased back to fitness after his recent injury.
"We have to be careful with Diogo, that’s clear," he told reporters. "I think shape-wise, of course he could have started, no doubt about that. But we thought it made absolute sense that he has half an hour or whatever if we play three days again."
While he may not be 100% yet, Jota has been invaluable for the Reds since his comeback, scoring or assisting in each of his last three games.
The 27-year-old netted in the 2-0 win over Burnley on Boxing Day, before grabbing an assist (and winning a penalty) in the 4-2 victory against Newcastle on New Year's Day. Meanwhile, his contribution against Arsenal would have been expected by anyone who has seen Jota take on the Gunners before.
As noted by Squawka, Jota has been directly involved in more goals against Arsenal than any other side in his career, with ten (eight goals, two assists).
Impressively, Jota also has a goal contribution in all five of his games at the Emirates Stadium – making it a very happy hunting ground for the former Wolves man.
Diogo Jota has now been directly involved in more goals vs. Arsenal than against any other side during his career (10):
◉ 8 goals
◉ 2 assists
— Squawka (@Squawka) January 7, 2024
With Mohamed Salah now absent for Liverpool due to the Africa Cup of Nations, the Reds' number 20 will be particularly important for Klopp in the coming weeks.
Jota – who hit the 50 goal mark for Liverpool with his Boxing Day striker – is currently his side's second-top scorer in all competitions this season after Salah, with nine, while his goal rate is especially impressive when you factor in his actual pitch time.
The forward has started just 11 times in all competitions this season and missed eight games across November and December with his latest injury.
Discussing the need for Liverpool's attackers to fill the hole left by Salah's departure, Jota said: "If I remember right we did quite well two years ago, but it’s never easy because the team is used to having Mo on that right wing and we know what a threat he is for the opponent. Just his presence even sometimes without touching the ball is enough.
“We will not have that, it’s a certainty, so we need to adapt. On the other hand, I know we have the quality in this squad to make his absence look like it’s not happening, hopefully that’s what it’s going to be. We know with him it will be easier but we are all ready to give it a go."