Time is a flat circle.
Joe Gomez started his Liverpool career as a left-back and now, well into his ninth season with the club, he’s back there. The 26-year-old has been a revelation for the Reds since replacing the injured Kostas Tsimikas in the first half of the match against Anfield.
He’s likely going to be first choice for the foreseeable with Andrew Robertson reportedly sidelined until the end of January. Jurgen Klopp isn’t the sort to use the transfer market for short-term fixes either. The German tactician will no doubt feel as though he has enough cover with Gomez and youngster Luke Chambers to navigate what has the potential to be a difficult month. The Reds will be without Mohamed Salah and Wataru Endo due to international commitments.
Liverpool have an FA Cup clash against Arsenal this month as well as a Carabao Cup semi-final versus Fulham. It is a condensed month too with six games to be played despite the mini-winter break (11 days) following the first-leg of the Carabao Cup.
The Reds are going to be reliant on Gomez. If he can maintain the form he’s shown over the past two matches, Robertson and Tsimikas might not be missed at all.
Gomez played 55 minutes against Arsenal in the top-of-the-table clash. He attempted six tackles and won the highest number of anyone on the pitch (four). He also won seven of his eight duels against the Gunners and played a key role in limiting the away side to just six shots in the second half, none of which tested Alisson. Mikel Arteta’s finished the second half with an Expected Goals haul of just 0.18, per FotMob.
It was an even more impressive cameo when you consider the Liverpool No. 2 was up against an in-form Bukayo Saka. The 22-year-old has 11 goal involvements in the Premier League this term and headed into the game with a goal or an assist in four of his last six outings.
The versatile Liverpool defender more than held his own. He also showcased his attacking capabilities too, having two shots and creating a chance. For someone without a career goal to his name, the curled effort he struck against Arsenal was technically superb and was just centimetres away from nestling in David Raya’s bottom corner.
He followed that showing up with another impressive one against Burnley.
Gomez attempted four dribbles against Vincent Kompany’s team at Turf Moor and had a success rate of 75%. He was flawless when tackling and finished the game with a 100% success rate. The 11-cap England international made six ball recoveries and involved himself in an astonishing 20 duels. He won 50% of his ground duels and has a 67% success rate in the air.
Again, he played his part in another assured defensive display. The hosts had nine shots in total but failed to test Alisson on a single occasion and finished the game with an Expected Goals total of just 0.81.
The biggest compliment you can pay Gomez is that it hasn’t looked as though Liverpool are playing with a right-footed centre-back at left-back.
This has been an important campaign for Gomez. He has replaced James Milner as Mr Versatility having played centre-back, right-back and left-back. He did well as an inverted full-back when filling in for Trent Alexander-Arnold and he’s now doing his best impression of a marauding full-back-cum-winger.
He’s proving himself to be invaluable. If he can play to a high level until Robertson returns, the Reds will no doubt find themselves still in the title race come February, despite the many injuries.