Jurgen Klopp backs Diogo Jota – despite 364-day goal drought

Jurgen Klopp has praised Diogo Jota as he continues his bid to end a 364-day wait for his next Liverpool goal.

The manager was asked about Jota’s goalscoring record against Arsenal and whether the weekend’s clash presents an opportunity for the 26-year-old to find his feet in front of goal again.

The Portuguese forward has netted seven times in eight appearances against the Gunners, but his last goal for the Reds came almost a year ago to the day during a 2-2 draw away at Man City.

“I thought, for example, Diogo did really well since he’s been back because he was injured for a long time and for that, the level of performance he has produced, I really like,” said the boss in defence of his player’s drought.

“He was good against Chelsea, he closed the right side really well and was offensively a threat.”

MADRID, SPAIN - Wednesday, March 15, 2023: Liverpool's Darwin Núñez (R) and Diogo Jota (C) are substituted by manager Jürgen Klopp during the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 2nd Leg game between Real Madrid CF and Liverpool FC at the Estadio Santiago Bernabéu. Madrid won 1-0 (6-2 on aggregate). (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Jota was on target 21 times in all competitions last season but is yet to register a goal in a 2022/23 campaign hampered by hamstring and calf injuries.

Klopp insisted that he is not concerned by the striker’s lack of goals and instead chose to focus on his positive response to the adversity he has faced in recent months.

“This year is not a year he will remember as the best year of his life because he was injured for the majority of it, but for us the last couple of games are super important,” stressed Klopp.

“He is a super mature boy. He is really dealing well with difficulties and setbacks, things like this, it is really impressive for the age he is at.”

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, March 5, 2023: Liverpool's substitute Diogo Jota before the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Manchester United FC at Anfield. Liverpool won 7-0. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Liverpool host league leaders Arsenal on Sunday afternoon in a must-win game if the Reds are to hold on to any hopes of Champions League qualification.

The game comes after the Reds drew 0-0 away at Chelsea to make it four consecutive fixtures without a win in all competitions.

Jota has scored more of his Liverpool goals against Arsenal than any other side, and the weekend’s clash could be an ideal time for the forward to get his name back on the scoresheet.