In Focus: Jota's resurgence boosts Reds' European dreams
Diogo Jota's winner against Tottenham on Sunday has boosted Liverpool's hopes of playing against Europe's elite next season.
The 26-year-old has bagged five times in his last four league appearances for the Reds and has not been on the losing side during that run.
Jurgen Klopp's men remain seven points behind rivals Manchester United in fourth but maintain a small amount of hope that they can still catch the Red Devils.
Ahead of a must-win clash with Fulham tonight, we take a look at how Jota can play a crucial role in the final weeks of the season.
Hit and miss
Liverpool's No20 has not always delivered in front of goal, but his all-round play for the Reds has made him a fan favourite on Merseyside.
Jota has missed 16 top-flight matches this season due to injury and Klopp has admitted that the 30-cap Portuguese international could be missing again tonight after his heroics on Sunday.
His absence has had a negative impact on Liverpool's season and the 2019 Champions League winners may well have been closer to a top-four spot had the former Wolves man remained at full fitness.
Without Jota, the Reds have lost six times this term. But with him in the squad, they have only suffered defeat on three occasions.
Jota was looking forward to another strong season at Anfield having signed a new contract back in August — but has since endured a challenging year.
He gave an honest assessment of his time on the sidelines after recovering from a calf issue, while also expressing his gratitude towards the club's fans.
He said: "It’s been a very hard season, mentally for me especially, and of course on the field with the results we have had. Nothing has been going our way.
"It was a very special moment when I came back from injury against Everton. I really felt blessed to have that moment when I first stepped on the pitch.
"I know they [the supporters] like me and hopefully I can deliver on the pitch."
After allowing Spurs back into the game at Anfield, Klopp introduced Jota to give the home side an added edge in the final third — and he delivered on all fronts.
Across his 17 Premier League appearances this season, the Porto native has averaged 2.84 shots and 1.37 chances created per 90 minutes.
His efforts in front of goal have been a bit more of a concern, with the 30-cap international averaging only a 31% shot accuracy, ranking him lower than the likes of Granit Xhaka and Tomas Soucek.
But in the last four matches, Liverpool's speedster has lifted that statistic to 46%, while no player has attempted more than his 4.7 shots per 90.
Klopp has been full of praise for Jota despite his lengthy absences in the 2022-23 campaign.
The former Borussia Dortmund boss believes that the 5ft 10in finisher is an incredible forward and can achieve great things if he stays fit.
Klopp said: "He is an exceptional player. Super-smart player, can play really different positions, has a few interesting skills for an offensive player.
"He is not the tallest but is an extreme threat in the air, timing is top, can finish with both feet. If Diogo can stay fit he is really an outstanding player."
Liverpool's chances of securing Champions League football next season remain thin, but Jota's return to form gives them a fighting chance.