Multiple injuries to Liverpool’s back line meant that 21-year-old Joe Gomez has started the season as Liverpool’s centre-back alongside the world’s most expensive defender Virgil Van Dijk.
It has long been argued that the centre-back position is Gomez’ best and, on the opening day of the season against West Ham, Jurgen Klopp gave the nod to the youngster to start in his favoured role.
There is no better time than the present for Gomez to seize the opportunity that has come his way, showcase his talents and lay down the foundations to a potential lengthy partnership at the heart of Liverpool’s defence with Van Dijk.
1. Seize the opportunity
Gomez has the perfect opportunity in front of him to cement his name into Jurgen Klopp’s plans, and he needs to seize this with some solid performances and clean sheets to match.
You only have to look back as far as last season to see a youngster in the Liverpool ranks take hold of an opportunity.
Trent Alexander-Arnold was given a chance to start in Klopp’s first XI after Nathaniel Clyne was injured during preseason, and remains Liverpool’s first choice right-back this campaign, despite Clyne’s return.
21-year-old Gomez now finds himself in the same position, with the Reds other centre back choices injured or unavailable.
2. Gomez’ performance against West Ham
Gomez and the Liverpool back line had a relatively quiet afternoon against West Ham. However, the youngster performed well when called upon and showed glimpses of a potentially perfect partnership with Virgil Van Dijk.
An attribute Gomez displayed during the game was his ability to play it out from the back – a trait that is extremely useful in Jurgen Klopp’s possession-based setup.
The centre-back had a 92% pass accuracy from the game.
This is something Liverpool’s other centre-back options have struggled to maintain during their time in the first XI, especially Dejan Lovren.
3. Gomez’ time at full-back gives him the edge
Gomez’ time playing full-back for the Reds last season gives him an edge over his counterparts and allows Jurgen Klopp’s defence to have a bit of versatility.
Lovren seems to struggle when he has to be brought out wide, and Gomez looks a lot more comfortable than the Croatian when he has to go into either channel of the pitch.
The 21-year-old also showed glimpses of his ability to get forward during Liverpool’s opening fixture, a trait he has picked up during his time at full-back and an extra weapon for Klopp to consider in his attacking arsenal.