Former England international Paul Robinson believes that Liverpool defender Joe Gomez has struggled with being unable to hold down a regular place in the Reds’ line-up this season.
The 22-year-old had started 13 of Liverpool’s first 15 Premier League games last season (11 as centre-back) before fracturing his leg against Burnley just under a year ago, but he has made just eight starts in all competitions so far this term.
Gomez was taken off 57 minutes into the 1-1 draw with Napoli on Wednesday night, having failed to find a team-mate from any of the five crosses he delivered from right-back, and Robinson feels that his inability to claim a regular starting berth has affected his performances of late.
Speaking to Football Insider about the Liverpool defender’s struggles, he said: “I think it’s due to him not playing. I think it’s because he played so much last year, I don’t think he’s coped well with being out of the team, I don’t think he’s coped well with bit-parts.
“Joe Gomez has found it hard to get back in the team and because he’s such a young lad, it’s the first time he’s probably had this in his career, I think he’s struggling with being a bit-part player.
“When he was playing last season, he was consistent, playing week in, week out. This year when he’s come in, he’s having to play right-back at times, centre-half, then he’s on the bench again for two or three games. I don’t think it’s suited him.”
Robinson may have a fair point in saying that Gomez has found it hard to discover his best form due to his often-changing role at Liverpool this season in a team that all UK betting sites have as heavy favourites for the league title.
The 22-year-old hasn’t started a Premier League game since the opening day win over Norwich and has not started consecutive matches for the Reds since being in the team for the first three competitive games of the season, as per TransferMarkt.
He has started three of their five Champions League matches so far but even then he has been moved about the defence, starting at centre-back against Red Bull Salzburg in October before being brought on at right-back away to Genk and then alternating between those two positions again in the last couple of group games. [via TransferMarkt]
Robinson’s view that Gomez’s performances have declined as a result of being swapped in and out of the team, as well as between centre-back and right-back, are justified by the defender’s statistical disimprovement from 2018/19.
In last season’s Premier League, he was averaging 1.5 successful aerial duels, 1.1 successful tackles, 0.9 interceptions and 2.4 clearances per game, with a passing success rate of 87.5%. [via WhoScored]
This season, his corresponding match averages are 0.8 headers won, 0.8 tackles won, 0.2 interceptions and 0.4 clearances, while his passing accuracy has dropped to 84.7%. [via WhoScored]
Gomez has not been helped by the increased faith shown in Liverpool defensive team-mate Dejan Lovren, who has started six of the Reds’ last eight games, and a look at his drop in standards from last season support Robinson’s view that the 22-year-old has struggled with being a disposable asset for Jurgen Klopp in recent weeks.
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