Liverpool striker Diogo Jota believes that he and his team-mates can still catch Manchester City at the top of the Premier League table despite losing further ground in the title race.
The Reds fell to a shock 1-0 defeat at Leicester City on Tuesday, before Man City overcame Brentford by the same scoreline on Wednesday to extend their lead, now eight points ahead of second-place Chelsea and nine ahead of Liverpool, albeit having played a game more than Jurgen Klopp’s side.
The defending Premier League champions have dropped just 10 points in their first 20 games this season, but Jota insists that Liverpool can close the gap between now and the end of the season.
“There are still a lot of games. Obviously there is a gap now between us and them,” the Portugal international told the club’s official website. “We know there is that gap, but we also know we are able to close that gap and that’s the plan.
“But we need to avoid what happened against Leicester because if we keep doing the things we did in that game, it’s going to be hard for us. We know that. So it’s up to us to recover from that game, regroup and go again – because we are able to.
“We were not like ourselves, we were not getting that momentum we often do. Although we had our chances to open the scoring – if we did that, the game changes, like we know. I think that was the missing part.”
0 – Liverpool have ended 2021 in the same way they started it, by failing to score in an away match. The Reds had netted in each of their last 28 on the road in all competitions between these two games (75 goals in total). Bookends. pic.twitter.com/EfzBJXSI21
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) December 28, 2021
Liverpool travel to Chelsea on Sunday in a crunch clash between two teams desperately trying to hang on to City’s coattails.
Blues boss Thomas Tuchel raised concerns about player availability after they drew 1-1 with Brighton and Hove Albion on Wednesday, saying: “We have seven COVID cases. We have five or six players out for six or more weeks. How should we compete in a title race?
“We would be stupid to think we can do it out of COVID and injuries. Just play and everybody would be stupid to do it without 23 fit players.”
The Reds drew 1-1 with Tuchel’s men at Anfield in August, despite Reece James being sent off just before half-time, and Jota – who is the second top goalscorer in the Premier League with 10 goals, behind only team-mate Mohamed Salah (15) – knows how tough the reverse fixture is likely to be.
“We know even against 10 [men] how difficult it was for us to create chances,” he added. “I think that’s their main thing, they don’t allow the opponent many chances.
“They have their injuries, but we have had ours as well, we have had our COVID cases as well, like theirs. Whoever is going to be on the pitch, 11 against 11, it will be very tough for everyone involved and a very intense game.
“It will be a proper Premier League game. We want to start the year well and the only way is to win the game at Stamford Bridge.”
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