Joe Gomez - a new lease of life at the heart of the Liverpool defence
It’s been a brilliant start to the season for young Liverpool defender Joe Gomez, who has used a combination of injuries, sales and World Cup hangovers to force his way into Jürgen Klopp’s starting XI alongside Dutchman Virgil van Dijk.
He’s looked almost unbelievably comfortable alongside van Dijk, showing communication similar to that of a partnership which has existed for years. They’ve only played two games together at the centre of defence. The young Englishman has looked very assured on the right side of the two, and has barely put a foot wrong in Liverpool’s opening two games.
Klopp has been very complimentary of Joe’s abilities. He’s quoted as saying: "I was never in doubt about Joe's ability to play CB. He just needed time. He's a very good football player. He has a good understanding with Virgil.” High praise from the Liverpool manager for a defender who looks well beyond his years.
The England international started the season coming up against Marko Arnautovic, who poses a very physical threat and is always a nuisance for any defender. In a relatively quiet game for Liverpool at the back, it would’ve been easy for Gomez to lose focus and give the West Ham attack a sniff of a chance. He did quite the opposite. 4 clearances, 2 tackles won, 4 aerial duels won (no mean feat considering the opposition) and 54 passes (with a 91.5% accuracy) capped off a fine start to the season for the former Charlton man.
Next up was a trip to Selhurst Park which arguably provided an even tougher test for the Liverpool backline, but a test that was passed with flying colours, with Gomez excelling alongside a warrior-like leader in Virgil van Dijk. Christian Benteke is notorious for the aerial threat that he poses and it was never going to be easy for Gomez, especially considering he had the pace, directness and skill of Wilfried Zaha to deal with concurrently. It was a tougher test than West Ham, but the Crystal Palace attack still could find no way through Joe Gomez and co. On a personal level, Joe can take great pride in his performance: 4 clearances, 2 tackles won and 5 duels won, as well as completing 63 passes with a 90% accuracy, capped off a fine day for the Liverpool defender.
If he can keep Dejan Lovren out of the team when he returns from injury, Joe Gomez will definitely be someone to keep an eye on in Klopp’s side. Quick, aerially dominant, and a good interpreter of the game, he definitely has all the credentials to make it as a world-class centre-back over the years. He will definitely face tougher tests than those that he has been presented with in the opening two games, but don’t put it past him to stand up to those tests and come out the other end fighting. And with the season well underway, it’s clear Joe Gomez has found a new lease of life under Jürgen Klopp this season.