Teenage summer signing Joe Gomez has already helped improve Liverpool’s defending this season, with Saturday’s defeat to West Ham the only blip on his record so far.
Gomez wasn’t really at fault for any goal, as Dejan Lovren and Martin Skrtel were mostly at fault for least two of the Hammers goals on Saturday.
Nonetheless, the affect Joe Gomez has made at Liverpool hasn’t only been huge, but equally as surprising, too. Former Liverpool left back John Arne Risse in high praise for the youngster saying: “I must admit I didn’t know too much about him before he came to the club.
“But I’m very, very impressed by Joe Gomez. Seriously impressed.
“It’s a recurring theme when it comes to the 18-year-old”.
Gomez’s impressive performances haven’t gone unnoticed so far this season with a call up to Gareth Southgates U21’s England squad a telling reward for his efforts.
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Ostensibly, it’s been a swift turnaround. But some are not so shocked. Certainly not Charlton academy director Steve Avory.
“I think Joe saw there was a pathway here,” Avory told Sky Sports, speaking at the training ground where Gomez’s photo still adorns the wall.
His form has been hugely impressive and first impressions count a lot in football, and so far you would have to say that the former Charlton man couldn’t have done any more.
But not only has his performances individually, but he has also helped to galvanise the Liverpool defence. Despite being known for leaking goals, Rodgers’ men had kept three clean sheets in their first three games with the youngster in the side, and because Gomez is a right footed centre-back playing at left back, it has meant that the back four has played far narrower.
The narrow defence has worked well, though. Skrtel and Lovren have been less exposed so far, with Saturday’s defeat being the exception, and it is crucial that Liverpool keep Lovren unexposed as Manuel Lanzini highlighted the damage it can have when he disposed Lovren for Mark Noble’s goal on Saturday.
When he is left isolated the Croat struggles, as shown last season when he made many mistakes, and his seven mistakes leading to shots last term was indeed the highest in the league. With Gomez in the side, Lovren being isolated is far less likely to happen as the former Charlton man tucks inside.
He has made more interceptions and more tackles than any of his Liverpool team mates so far, which is pretty impressive for young teenager still learning his trade at the very top of the game.
He has settled into life on Merseyside seamlessly, and the fact he is keeping one of Rodgers’ big signings from last summer, Alberto Moreno, out of the side, shows the Northern Irishman’s faith in Gomez, as he clearly sees that he is a far reliable defender than the Spaniard.
Gomez may well have gone under the radar when he made his Liverpool switch earlier in the summer, but the teenager is already showing his worth and frankly starts don’t come much better than the one he has made to his Liverpool career.
He is fast becoming a real unsung hero.