Liverpool defender Joe Gomez was singled out for praise after his side’s 2-1 victory against Sheffield United at Anfield last night.
Gomez impresses Pearce
The Reds took all three points in a game which saw Rhian Brewster return to Anfield for the first time since his £23.5m move to the Blades last month.
Roberto Firmino and Diogo Jota sealed the deal for Jurgen Klopp’s side following yet more VAR controversy after the off-field officials believed that Fabinho fouled Oliver McBurnie inside the 18-yard box. However, replays showed that the challenge took place fractionally outside the area and Mike Dean’s original decision should have stood, much to Jurgen Klopp’s frustration at the final whistle.
With Dutch talisman Virgil van Dijk set for a lengthy spell on the sidelines, Gomez was paired with Fabinho as the Reds’ centre-back pairing as they look to adjust to life without the 29-year-old for the foreseeable future.
The Englishman performed superbly, winning 10 of his 19 duels along with recording nine clearances, a 100% long ball accuracy and an overall passing success rate of 94% (Sofascore).
During The Athletic‘s Q&A session after the full-time whistle, Pearce was asked by a fan about Gomez’s performance and gave his view on his new role in the team. The journalist replied: “He does get some very unfair criticism. Lost a few aerial battles tonight but other areas of his game outstanding. Stepping up in the absence of VVD [Van Dijk].”
Gomez is in a similar position to an 18-year-old going to university for the first time and no longer relying on their parents to get by – a similar scenario applies to him in Van Dijk’s absence.
Yesterday’s performance proved that he is competent without the Dutch international by his side, with Fabinho set to be his partner at the back unless Liverpool opt to make a move in the January transfer window.
The £36m-rated talent put in a dominant display and made up for the ghastly showing that he put in at Villa Park before the international break. He now has the opportunity to kick on and prove to his manager that he can cope without Van Dijk next to him.
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