Joe Gomez was Liverpool’s youngest player during their Super Sunday victory over Stoke City and his performance has earned some positive remarks on what was his Premier League debut for the club. Gomez signed from Charlton Athletic earlier on in the summer transfer window and his impressive performances throughout pre-season have seen him oust Alberto Moreno as Liverpool’s first choice left-back – for now at least. The English defender is strong, quick and composed, as well as being confident in his own footballing abilities. So, how did he do when pitted against the experienced and robust Jonathan Walters on Stoke’s right-hand side?
Confident but wings clipped?
As I mentioned earlier, Gomez is a confident young man who remains composed on the ball at all times. This shows in his pass completion rate which stood at an impressive 77% despite making his competitive debut for a new club inside one of the most infamous stadiums in England – the Britannia Stadium. Not only did he complete this tidy success rate but he also supplied the assist to Philippe Coutinho’s winner, granted, it wasn’t a tightly knitted through-ball or a dinked cross but it showed awareness and the pass in-field to the Brazilian’s feet was full of pace and allowed Coutinho to turn Steve Sidwell with his first touch.
However, it wasn’t all great with Liverpool’s new defender consistently beaten in the air by the experienced and strong Jonathan Walters. Gomez only emerged victorious from 28.57% of his headed duels which either highlights a weakness in his game or a genuine mismatch in ability with Walters who is generally known for his heading prowess despite his modest stature. This aspect of his game must be improved as time goes by as Stoke fashioned their best chance of the game after Gomez was isolated and beaten in the air with Walters winning the header and then beating Dejan Lovren to the loose ball – it must be noted that Lovren was far too close to Martin Skrtel and too far away from Gomez at this point (something the Croatian international is unfortunately guilty of too often) which meant that the lost duel completely split Liverpool open. A better side would definitely have created something more from this opening. Gomez was more assured in the tackle, thankfully, as he won two thirds of his attempted tackles with two wins to one loss.
Conclusions are completely pointless at this stage of the season but with a solid pre-seaon behind him and a decent debut under his belt I think Joe Gomez could be an astute signing for Liverpool but he shouldn’t be the club’s nailed on first choice left-back.
Young players are notorious for having big swings in form with a form chart probably reading more like the Big Dipper at Blackpool Pleasure Beach rather than a calm and flat River Mersey. Alberto Moreno should certainly be given the chance to regain his form after a difficult ending to last season and competition in this position would only be a positive anyway. This is especially true as Liverpool seemed to lack balance against Stoke with the vast majority of their play going down the right-hand side involving Jordon Ibe and Nathaniel Clyne. This may have been deliberate with Clyne better at attacking than the young Gomez. It may also have been a by-product of yet another average game from Adam Lallana who seemed unable or unwilling to impose himself on the match. More attacking variation will be needed against better sides and Moreno would certainly be more comfortable venturing forward than Gomez. Nevertheless, an encouraging debut by Liverpool’s latest star youngster.