Liverpool’s start to the new campaign has not gone as per plan at all. After two games into the new Premier League season, the Reds find themselves 12th on the table without registering a single win. Their performances against both Fulham and Crystal Palace have been criticized by supporters for the apparent lack of quality and clinical edge from the players on the pitch.
To make matters worse, Jurgen Klopp has also lost a couple of key names from his squad already. Influential midfielder Thiago picked up a muscle injury during the league opener against Fulham and a return date is currently unknown.
At the same time, new signing Darwin Nunez picked up a red card following a cynical challenge against Crystal Palace and is now set to miss Liverpool’s next three games. With the Merseyside team lacking depth in both these positions, these absences would surely be too costly to afford at this point of the season.
Having been a team that prided themselves on squad harmony since the arrival of the German manager, this tough start to the campaign seems to have everyone at Anfield agitated.
Even Klopp appeared extremely annoyed during his post-match interviews and has responded to simple questions from journalists with bizarre answers and unnecessary complaints such as ‘the pitch was dry.’
Now it looks like the tension has even crept up to even those Liverpool players in the squad who are not in action on the pitch. During the club’s game against Palace, Diogo Jota and Joel Matip were spotted on the Liverpool bench together. As Matip appeared to joke around with the Portuguese striker by making a funny face, Jota quickly shut down the defender’s light-hearted attempt by asking him to ‘shut up.’
As football returned to Anfield on Monday, things once again went off the script as Wilfried Zaha put Palace ahead early on in the first half much to the dismay of Kopites who would have been expecting a more spirited response from their club after the draw against Fulham.
Having picked up injuries towards the end of last season both Jota and Matip were on the sidelines watching their side struggle to get a foothold against Patrick Vieira’s team. Perhaps in an attempt to lighten the mood on the bench, the Cameroonian centre-back was spotted airing comical faces at Jota but the Portuguese international did not even flinch and appeared to ask Matip to shut up.
Given Liverpool’s shaky start to the season and Jota’s unavailability especially following Nunez’s dismissal, it would have been a tough pill to swallow for the dedicated 25-year-old. Moreover, the exit of Mane and the injury to Firmino would have ensured Jota a position in the starting eleven as Liverpool travel to Old Trafford next week.
Having played a crucial role as a squad player during the club’s pursuit of a quadruple last season, Jota would have been expecting to step up this season and feature more regularly for Liverpool which would have also boosted his chances of getting into the Portugal squad for the World Cup.
With these thoughts perhaps mulling over his head, it was a natural reaction from the striker to snap at his teammate’s rather carefree gesture.
With Liverpool now set to face 20th-placed Manchester United next week, perhaps Jurgen Klopp will be expecting the same seriousness and focus exhibited by Jota from the rest of his playing squad as the Reds look to secure their first win of the new season.