Saturday, August 13, 2022

Jurgen Klopp Set To Rely On This Star As Alexander-Arnold’s Replacement: Right Call From The Gaffer?

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Pratyay Maitra
A sports enthusiast in his mid-twenties who reads, breathes, as well as dreams (mostly) about football and attempts to share his views with the fanatics by jotting it down. Prefers to learn through extensive interaction, communication and exploration. So don't be in a quandary and SHOOT.

The 2021-22 club season will hit its climax post-international break and Liverpool, who are just a point behind leaders Manchester City in the Premier League standings, must maintain their winning streak in the remaining games to reclaim the silverware. The dream is on for a historic ‘quadruple’, but the Reds must script a miracle to conquer the feat dealing with fatigue and fitness constraints.

They are set to be without Trent Alexander-Arnold for a while and his absence has caused a selection dilemma ahead of hosting Watford on Saturday afternoon. According to The Athletic, the young right fullback will also miss their trip to Benfica for the first leg of the Champions League quarter-final, whereas the massive fixture against Man City might be touch-and-go as well. Jurgen Klopp, therefore, must find a solution down the right and is expected to rely on Joe Gomez, who impressed against Nottingham Forest in their scrappy 1-0 FA Cup quarter-final victory in West Bridgford.

Gomez was a key first-team star until a knee injury ruled him out for most of the 2020-21 campaign. Although the Englishman regained his fitness last year during pre-season, the arrival of Ibrahima Konate saw him slip down the pecking order, with Virgil van Dijk and Joel Matip being the preferred central defensive pairing across competitions. He is now the fourth-choice centre-half in the red half of Merseyside, but his versatility across the backline might hand him an opportunity to resurrect his Liverpool career.

Liverpool defender Joe Gomez in action against Nottingham Forest
Nottingham Forest’s Danish midfielder Philip Zinckernagel (L) fights for the ball with Liverpool’s English defender Joe Gomez during the English FA Cup quarter-final football match between Nottingham Forest and Liverpool at The City Ground in Nottingham, central England, on March 20, 2022. – – RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE. (Photo by PAUL ELLIS/AFP via Getty Images). The 4th Official uses images provided by the following image agency: Getty Images (https://www.gettyimages.de/) and Imago Images (https://www.imago-images.de/).

Why Gomez Should Get The Nod In Liverpool Backline

Neco Williams was allowed to join Fulham on loan during the January window and the gaffer, therefore, is left with Gomez and James Milner as the only available makeshift options. The latter is idolized by many for his sheer commitment and professionalism, but the 36-year-old veteran would struggle to cope with City’s pace and flair, similar to their Anfield meeting earlier this season.

Gomez began his Liverpool career as a left fullback during the final few weeks of Brendan Rodgers’ regime. He often featured from the right in all these years and his performance against Forest depicted his promptness and adaptability despite limited gametime.

Yet he remains the best alternative to Alexander-Arnold given his expertise in the defensive third. He won’t be as creative as his compatriot high up the pitch, but his composure and game-reading attributes should help him deliver in these decisive contests. It’s time for Gomez to make his contribution en route to writing history.

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