There will be an interesting dynamic later today when Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool travel to face Marco Silva’s Everton at Goodison Park. The Reds are chasing the title whilst the Blues’ only relevance this season will be to try and derail their neighbours. It will be a game of individual battles, and the one we’re looking at is a tight midfield clash.
Everton’s on-loan Andre Gomes has been key to everything that the Toffees have done this season, whilst equally important to the Kopites is the ever-impressive Georginio Wijnaldum. The two could well be facing each other in the UEFA Nations League final this summer, yet more directly they’ll be in each other’s faces on Merseyside today in a massive clash that could have huge implications on the title race.
For Everton fans, the form of Andre Gomes has been the difference between winning and losing at times this season. The on-loan Barcelona star has been one of the very few positives in a so far abysmal Everton season under Marco Silva. However, if Silva can smash Liverpool’s title hopes to smithereens with a big win, and Gomes can be at the heart of it, then he may just live to see another day.
If you were to pin the Toffees’ chances on one man in their squad, a fair few Everton fans would be putting their chances on the shoulders of their Portuguese loanee. On paper, it’s hard to pick many if any, Everton players who would crack the Reds’s first eleven, yet Gomes has the best chance with his ability to dictate the tempo of games and perform in the big games, as we’ve seen glimpses of this season.
TT GRADE: B
When Jurgen Klopp forked out on Wijnaldum from relegated Newcastle United there were serious question marks over what the Dutchman would bring to the club. The 28-year-old had been primarily used as an attacking midfielder by the Magpies, yet Klopp saw the versatility in the ex-PSV star and has turned him into one of the most effective utility men in the Premier League.
At the start of the season, Wijnaldum was used as the club’s lone defensive midfielder, sitting behind two central midfielders giving them, along with the Reds’ full-backs, licence to push on and go forward. However, as Fabinho has got to grips with being Klopp’s number one defensive midfielder, the 28-year-old former Newcastle man has become even more valuable to the club as a tempo-setting central midfielder, working tirelessly at both ends of the pitch in this impressive Liverpool machine.
TT GRADE: A++
Andre Gomes is a top, top player and is certainly up there as Everton’s signing of the season. However, Wijnaldum’s form in a number of different roles in big games this season has earmarked him as one of the best performers in the Premier League this season. The Dutchman may not be given the credit that the likes of Mo Salah and the league’s top goalscorers are, but in this battle, he’s hands down the deserving winner.