Tag Archives: Joe Gomez

My Perfect Footballer #3 – Klopp’s Liverpool Edition

Words by @BubbIxs

Over the past three years we’ve witnessed the best Liverpool team in generations. They accumulated 197 points in two seasons whilst picking up four trophies, including a Premier League title, Champions League title and a FIFA Club World Cup, the first in the club’s history. 

There is no doubt that this squad of players have excelled all over the pitch, but would it be possible to build the perfect player by trying to merge attributes from Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool players, with the only rule being you can’t use a player more than once? Lets give it a try… 


Brain
Fabinho 

Whilst firmly cementing himself at the heart of Liverpool’s midfield during the 18/19 campaign, Fabinho dominated in holding midfield sweeping up after those in front him. Virgil van Dijk once described him as Inspector Gadget because, “his legs are everywhere.” His ability to read the game is second to none, proven by his emphatic performances at centre back for the champions so far this season in the absence of van Dijk, Joe Gomez and Joel Matip, not to mention his appearances at right-back for the Brazilian national team as well. Definitely an underrated element of Liverpool’s recent success. 

Heading Ability
Virgil van Dijk 

It was pretty hard to think of anyone else for this attribute. Virgil is almost the most perfect player himself and so could fill a lot of these attributes to come on his own. He adds a calmness in your own box when dealing with set pieces and adds a threat in the opposition’s.

This was most clear in his Liverpool debut in the Merseyside derby, where he added a sense of security to the back line and went on to score the winner at the Kop end. His leap, strength and dominance in the air will be perfect for our perfect player. 

Physique
James Milner 

When you’re 35-years-old and still winning the long-distance runs within the squad, it’s made the decision easy. I’ve gone with James Milner. A model professional, always working hard to keep his physical condition in tip-top shape to still compete at this level.

To maintain the career he has from 16 years-old to now is something quite impressive and this may not have been the most obvious shout for this attribute but if our perfect player can stay at the peak of his physicality for 19 years (and counting) then there’s no doubt he’ll dominate the game. 

Hands
Alisson Becker
 

Well it’s fair to say there wasn’t much competition for this attribute, but nevertheless since joining the reds in the summer of 2018, Alisson has earned the status of one of the best goalkeepers with his hands but also his feet. An all-round solid goalkeeper who has come in clutch for Liverpool in so many key moments.

The “Goleiro Gato”, one of my personal highlights was when he collected more golden gloves than he had hands at the end of the Premier League and Champions League in 2019 and then with Brazil at the Copa America that same summer. 

Tackling
Roberto Firmino 

Having already awarded Fabinho with the “brain” attribute it was quite tough to think of who could fill this slot, and naturally of course I went straight to the remaining centre backs. But after a quick search I was surprised to find that Firmino had completed more tackles (275) than all of Joel Matip, Joe Gomez and even Virgil van Dijk in the Premier League.

One of the hardest working forwards in Europe, this attribute will be essential for my player, winning the ball back high up the pitch and in potentially dangerous areas. 

Agility
Sadio Mane
 

He can turn left, he can turn right, the fact of the matter is you never know! And neither do defenders, making him incredibly dangerous in the final third especially when bringing the ball into the box. Mane’s balance and agility will be key for our perfect player. 

Finishing
Mohamed Salah 

Men lie, women lie, but numbers don’t. With two golden boots in 3 seasons and the record for amount of goals scored in a single Premier League season, there’s only one man this attribute can be awarded to.

With him recently also becoming Liverpool’s all-time top goalscorer in the Champions League, there’s no doubt in my mind that Salah is one of the best finishers in Liverpool’s history and this attribute will make our perfect player a match winner.

Passing
Thiago Alcantara
 

A new addition to the squad but a star nonetheless. A diamond in midfield who shared the pitch with the likes of Xavi, Iniesta and Xabi Alonso – and it shows! A truly blessed footballer who dictates the game from the middle of the park.

Speed
Joe Gomez
 

Having already allocated Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane to different attributes I can’t also give them speed, so having said that I’ve gone with Joe Gomez. Gomez of course doesn’t venture forward in the same way the attackers do, in fact he’s never actually scored a goal, but going the other way he is rapid.

His recovery speed is ridiculous, and many players include him in the conversation when they’re asked who would win in a race. If you try to imagine his running ability going forward maybe it can be appreciated more, but I’m saying our perfect player has Joe Gomez’s speed! 

Dribbling
Naby Keita 

Maybe it goes quite under the radar just how press resistant Naby Keita actually is but when he’s on, he’s ON! One of the better ball carriers in Liverpool’s midfield and is great at breaking into the danger areas through the middle as an alternative to crossing into the box from the fullbacks. Our perfect player will have his dribbling, but definitely not his fitness problems!

Leadership
Jordan Henderson 

Filling the shoes of Steven Gerrard was never going to be an easy task for Jordan Henderson and it’s no secret that at times he’s struggled, but the turnaround to captain a side to winning the Champions League, after losing in the final the year before, and then winning the league, in an unprecedented way again after losing it the year before despite accumulating 97 points, only shows the signs of a phenomenal leader.

His teammates can’t speak highly enough of him and I always go back to the Champions League campaign of 2017/18, where Liverpool were in no way expected to reach the final but they did. A big part of that journey was down to Henderson. Particularly the home legs in the quarter-final and semi-final, Henderson never stopped running, set the intensity and led the press. A world class leader on and off the pitch. 

Crossing
Andrew Robertson 

It’s well known how crucial Liverpool’s flying fullbacks and their assists have been to their success, reaching the pinnacle of English and European football. I have given crossing to Robertson, but obviously, him and Trent have equally been a threat going forward. Robertson once shared that he looks for the “gap between the defenders and the goalkeeper,” knowing how tough that is to defend against himself.

His vision, paired with his technique but also his relentlessness to always being in a good position to whip the ball in, is what makes him the perfect crosser for our perfect player. 

Right foot
Trent Alexander-Arnold 

Trent Alexander-Arnold had to be in this list and I was happy to compromise and award Trent with the attribute of right foot. Trent is more than just a crosser. His passing ability in general is that of kid who grew up idolising midfielders like Gerrard and Alonso and being a midfielder himself all throughout youth football, his technical passing ability is superb. Scoring free-kicks on his right and striking a ball is not too difficult for him either so for that reason I’m giving our perfect player Trent’s right foot. 

Left foot
Xherdan Shaqiri 

Maybe quite a surprise shout given the high-profile status of a certain Egyptian’s left peg, but my word on his day does Shaqiri have a wonder of a left foot. With a collection of sensational strikes from long range throughout his career, Shaqiri’s left foot is no joke and he is technically one of the most gifted player at the club. With the whip and power he can generate our perfect player is going to be lethal. 


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What Is The Strongest England Lineup?

Another international break, another dodgy team selection from Gareth Southgate, another not-so great performance from England as they were beaten 2-0 by Belgium in Brussels.

First half strikes from Youri Tielemans and Dries Mertens put the number one ranked team in the world into a comfortable lead as they cruised to victory with England struggling once again overall to turn in the type of performance that should be expected with the squad they have at their disposal.

Southgate once again opted to start the game with a back five and two holding midfielders, meaning the team struggled to get hold of the game in attacking positions until Belgium allowed them to do so.

As criticism came in post-game about Southgate’s team selection the obvious options the squad has are coming to light more and more. So what is his best XI right now?

Goalkeeper and Defenders

England v Republic of Ireland - International Friendly : News Photo

Dean Henderson (GK): The Manchester United stopper isn’t getting regular first-team football right now, but he is the best goalkeeper they have. He’s much better and more reliable than Jordan Pickford and his distribution is a big edge he has over Nick Pope. He shouldn’t be punished for not starting over David De Gea yet.

Reece James (RB): The Chelsea youngster has forced his way into the England squad following great performances for Frank Lampard’s side this season. He’s excellent on the ball, good going forward and defensively and is versatile enough to play in different positions too if needed. He fits the system that little bit better than Trent Alexander-Arnold and the other right-back options for me.

Harry Maguire (CB): If you know me, you know I’m not his biggest fan. England however are bereft of quality options at the back so experience is needed. Maguire is good in the air, decent on the ball and organises relatively well. He’s arguably the best of a bad bunch, so should start.

Joe Gomez (CB): His place in the side is up for grabs right now after a knee injury ruled him out for the next few months but when fit he should be an automatic starter. The 23 year old is quick, good on the ball, strong in the air and has all the attributes needed to help form a partnership with Maguire at the back.

Ben Chilwell (LB): Much like at centre back, England aren’t loaded with quality options at left-back right now. The Chelsea man‘s greatest competition is arguably Bukayo Saka, a natural winger, or Luke Shaw who hasn’t been in an England squad since 2018. He’s got good attributes but isn’t quite at the top level with any of them. Still, good enough to be starting for England.

Midfielders

England v Republic of Ireland - International Friendly : News Photo

Jordan Henderson (DM): He’s arguably at his best in a box-to-box role but Henderson has shown with Liverpool that he is capable of holding the fort defensively too. With his experience and leadership qualities as well as his ability to read the game means he can do that job for the national team too. Henderson can win the ball back and pass it off to the better, more technically tidy players in the team and let them focus on attacking.

Phil Foden (CM): Foden hasn’t broken into the England squad on a permanent basis just yet, but on ability he should be one of the first names on the team sheet. Foden is knocking on the door to be a regular in the Man City tea and his creativity is exactly what England are missing in midfield. He adds technical quality, goals, a killer pass and a little bit of x-factor to the centre of the pitch and would be a shining light.

Jack Grealish (CM): While his best form has come out on the left wing, Grealish is most dangerous when drifting into central positions. His dribbling and willingness to always show for the ball and create is much needed if England are to dominate games in the way they want to. He showed in the defeat to Belgium that he is more than ready for this level of football and he is one of England’s best players. He must start.

Attackers

England v Bulgaria - UEFA Euro 2020 Qualifier : News Photo

Raheem Sterling (RW): Sterling has spent the last 18 months playing primarily as a left-winger for Man City but prior to that he was just as effective from the right hand side. His pace, directness, ability to beat a defender one on one and eye for goal make him a world class attacker and one that must start for England.

Marcus Rashford (LW): The Manchester United poster boy has established himself as an England regular since making his debut as a striker back in 2016. Much like Sterling, he has untold amounts of ability out wide. Pace, strength, vision, passing ability, ball-striking technique and skill mean he is the best option out on the left right now.

Harry Kane (ST): England’s best player. A world class striker and the captain of the side, Kane has proven time and time again that when he plays he scores goals. He’s showed for Tottenham recently that having lethal runners either side of him brings out a new side to his game too so the potential of that front three is frightening, especially with Foden and Grealish supplying and creating in behind them too.

FIFA Should Be Held Responsible For Meaningless Friendlies Leading To Injury

In an already packed football schedule due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the last thing anyone needs or wants is pointless friendlies.

Yet FIFA have insisted that an extra international match be thrown into the schedule for fun, whether teams want it or not.

The vast majority of sides have been forced to take part in a friendly game during this break, to go with the two ‘competitive’ fixtures in the UEFA Nations League too. Those pointless games have led to Toni Kroos speaking out against UEFA and FIFA, while Premier League defenders Joe Gomez and Nathan Ake picked up injuries.

Gomez is now potentially due to miss the rest of the season with a serious knee injury, while Ake picked up a hamstring injury just 6 minutes into Holland’s 1-1 draw with Spain. Kroos’ comments came before the injuries but they still hold a lot of weight.

Unfortunately we players don’t decide these things. We’re just puppets of FIFA and UEFA. If there were a players’ union we wouldn’t play in the Nations League or a Spanish Super Cup in Saudi Arabia. These competitions are intended to absorb everything financially, and squeeze players physically too. Everything doesn’t have to be more, faster, more money.

Liverpool had their injury problems already and will now be without a key player in their squad during a tough season that is packed with games, through absolutely no fault of their own.

This comes after much talk about the substitution rule in the Premier League, where clubs decided to go against Europe and stick with just three substitutes per game instead of going up to five.

In the same way that FIFA have forced the Premier League to adapt their offside and handball rules this season to be in line with the rest of the continent, they should be putting player welfare at the top of their list and ensure everyone takes the five subs rule too.

They can ditch the friendlies too and show that Toni Kroos is wrong and they’re not interested in money over player welfare. Protect these players. Give them a break, physically and mentally. The extra few days a month without a game could prevent so much pain going forward.

FIFA need to take responsibility for the game they run. Look after the players during this crazy time, they’re humans before they’re footballers.

Who Should Liverpool Sign At Centre Back in January Following Joe Gomez Injury?

Another pointless international break, another avoidable injury.

This time it’s Liverpool who are the unlucky side, after it was revealed that defender Joe Gomez is likely to be sidelined with a knee injury suffered in training with the England squad.

While the amount of time he’ll miss is unknown as it stands, England boss Gareth Southgate revealed that the defender was in ‘a great amount of pain’ and that ‘nobody was around him’ when the injury occured. The fear is that he may have re-injured the ACL that he damaged back in 2015 that saw him miss the best part of a year of action.

With Virgil Van Dijk already ruled out for the rest of the season after tearing his ACL against Everton, Joel Matip with plenty of his own fitness issues and stand-in centre back Fabinho already injured too Gomez’s injury was the last thing Liverpool needed during this break.

Nathaniel Phillips and Rhys Williams have both filled in alongside Gomez in recent weeks but together as a pairing Liverpool will struggle to defend their title. This surely makes it likely that they will dip into the transfer market in January for a new defender, especially if the 23 year old’s injury turns out to be serious.

So what options do they have in January? Who is a defender of the necessary calibre that they could try to bring in?

The obvious candidate is Dayot Upamecano. The RB Leipzig defender was linked with a move away from the Bundesliga side in the summer, with Manchester United’s interest reportedly very strong. A move never materialised after he put pen-to-paper on a one-year extension but is expected to make the move away next summer when his €45m release clause kicks in.

Liverpool could use their excellent relationship with the club following their signing of Naby Keita to their favour, by paying more than release clause to get him in early ahead of the inevitable summer competition.

Another option could be Bayern Munich defender David Alaba. The Austrian international is out of contract at the end of the season and the German side revealed recently that talks over a new deal have been halted for now.

A move for Alaba wouldn’t be cheap despite that, with the player reportedly demanding large wages hence the failure to agree a new deal with the European champions. If Liverpool could agree personal terms then Alaba would arguably be the best option, as his versatility would also strengthen the squad across several areas even once their current injured options return.

Sevilla FC v C.A. Osasuna - La Liga Santander : News Photo

Bayern Munich have briefed that they don’t want to sell the player in January but if he agrees a move elsewhere, which he can by FIFA rules, an offer of cash could tempt them to part ways early rather than lose him for free at the end of the campaign.

A left-field option could be young Frenchman Jules Kounde of Sevilla. His partnership with Diego Carlos was a huge factor in the Spanish side lifting the Europa League last season and he has continued his good form into this season. Sevilla currently sit in mid-table but his individual performances have been excellent.

He has a release clause of £82.5m, with Manchester City showing interest in the summer and Sevilla showing a willingness to do business at around the £60m mark. That is on the high side but at just 22 years old, he would be a long-term investment for the club.

A cheaper option could be Schalke’s Ozan Kabak, who the club have reportedly been tracking for a while now. With a fee of £20m put on his head, Liverpool could look to bring him in as a cheaper alternative who still has implications for the future of the club at just 20 years old.

The Turkish international is very strong in the air, good positionally and willing to put his body on the line to block the ball but his weaknesses are generally on the ball. These may become exacerbated at Liverpool, who tend to dominate possession in most games they play.

At just 20 years old, there is plenty of room for improvement and coaching to mould the player but he’s also got more than enough top flight experience to help out with their immediate problems.

Whoever the Reds decide to bring in, if anyone, will have huge boots to fill and the expectation would be that they hit the ground running for Liverpool to be able to push on and continue challenging for honours.

Virgil Van Dijk To Miss The Rest Of 2020/21 Season

Liverpool have been dealt a huge blow in their pursuit to retain the Premier League title after Virgil Van Dijk was ruled out for the rest of the season with a knee injury.

The Holland defender, 29, has been influential in the dominance Liverpool have shown over the last two-and-a-half years and is widely regarded as the best defender in the world.

During Saturday’s 2-2 draw in the Merseyside derby against Everton, a horrific challenge by Jordan Pickford caught Van Dijk high and resulted in him being substituted after just 11 minutes. It’s now been officially confirmed by the club that he has suffered a complete tear of his cruciate ligament and will likely miss the remainder of the season.

Pickford’s challenge during the game went without punishment because VAR failed to look at it, seemingly becoming too fixated with trying to figure out whether Van Dijk was offside or not prior to it.

With Van Dijk now missing for the campaign, Liverpool are left with just two senior centre-backs until January at the earliest. Joel Matip and Joe Gomez will have to form a partnership for the defending champions until then, but with their own fitness issues over the course of their careers Jurgen Klopp has got a big ask on his hands.

Fabinho is an option to fill in at centre-back as he did against Arsenal when Gomez and Matip were injured earlier this year, but he is better off at the base of the midfield three.

The injury is obviously also leaves huge question marks over the future of Van Dijk at the top level of the game. Not only is he supremely intelligent and reads the game well, physically he is a specimen. Big and strong but he also is one of the quickest defenders in the game, which has allowed Liverpool to implement their high line to near perfection as he can use those long legs to keep up with any attackers who happen to beat their trap.

Everton v Liverpool - Premier League : News Photo

After recovering from an ACL tear, he will likely have less mobility, lose a yard of pace and also lose some of his agility. Former Manchester United captain Nemanja Vidic suffered a similar injury just after his 30th birthday and when he returned he was more reliant on his partner Rio Ferdinand than ever before, while also needing to use his experience and reading of the game more.

It’s imperative now that Liverpool have a top centre-back to go alongside Van Dijk when he returns to fitness, whether that is Matip, Gomez or someone they inevitably bring in during the January transfer window.

For Van Dijk it’s a real shame too, as this will bring to an end a stretch of dominant performances that have seen him (rightly or wrongly) compared to the great Premier League defenders of all-time for his role in Liverpool’s European and domestic triumphs.

The fact that Pickford went and will go unpunished for a tackle that has taken a season of football away from someone makes the Premier League’s rules surrounding VAR come under even more scrutiny.

Premier League Team of the Season

As the craziest Premier League season of all-time ends, all eyes go immediately towards the new season. People begin to talk about new transfers, new clubs, new managers and predictions for the new campaign.

Before I start doing that though, I want to give my thoughts on the best XI in the Premier League last season.

GOALKEEPER
Dean Henderson

A phenomenal debut season in the league has seen the Manchester United loanee break into the England squad and now be spoken about as a potential starter at Old Trafford next season ahead of David De Gea. With 13 clean sheets in 36 games, Henderson helped push Sheffield United towards a European place and although they missed out in the end it was Henderson’s performances that stood out more than others.

Honourable mentions: Allison Becker, Nick Pope, Ederson.

RIGHT BACK
Trent Alexander-Arnold

Self explanatory pick this one to be honest. Trent has continued to excel as the best right-back in the league and is now among the best in the world. While he still learning and improving in a defensive aspect, going forward he is one of the best there is and that helped propel Liverpool to a record breaking run that saw them lift their first Premier League title. With 13 assists in the league, he broke his own record for assists by a defender and had more than anyone else bar Kevin De Bruyne. A truly remarkable season by a truly remarkable player, he’s my pick for young player of the season.

Honourable mentions: Ricardo Pereira, Matt Doherty, Aaron Wan-Bissaka

CENTRE BACKS
Virgil Van Dijk & Joe Gomez

A pairing in real life and a pairing in my team of the year, Liverpool dominate the defensive side of this team. Van Dijk has continued to show the world that he is the best in the world in his position right now, while Gomez has shown why Jurgen Klopp has so much faith in him. Gomez is undoubtedly better when he has Van Dijk alongside him but on his own, he has shown good reading of the game and positioning while also becoming more vocal as the season progressed. Together they have the perfect blend of strength, speed, aerial dominance and ability on the ball to keep any attack quiet and they are a huge reason as to why Liverpool had the best defensive record in the league this season.

Honourable mentions: Caglar Soyunçu, Willy Boly, Aymeric Laporte

LEFT BACK
Andrew Robertson

It’s a full house for the Liverpool back-four as Robertson completes the defence. The Scotland captain is often outshone by teammate Alexander-Arnold as a creative full-back, but he himself managed to get 12 assists this season. His surging runs on the overlap are a big reason why Sadio Mane is so successful at cutting inside in this team and while his form certainly dropped off post-lockdown, the position Liverpool were in was clearly a big reason as to why so I won’t hold it against him. He’s among the best full-backs in the world currently and will continue to perform at a high level under Klopp’s rock ‘n’ roll football style.

Honourable mentions: Enda Stevens, Jonny

Liverpool players Andy Robertson, Joe Gomez, Roberto Firmino ...

CENTRE MIDFIELD
Kevin De Bruyne & Mateo Kovacic

I want to have some form of balance to this side and this is the best performing duo that gives me that. Mateo Kovacic was arguably Chelsea’s best player this season, really coming into his own as a lynchpin in Frank Lampard’s midfield. His fantastic dribbling and passing means he can break lines in multiple ways but he was also excellent defensively. Kevin De Bruyne’s inclusion is self-explanatory. 13 goals and 20 assists from central midfield is a stunning return and he has cemented himself as the best player in the league for me. His creativity, pace, power and ball striking is at a world class level and he would be an asset to any team in world football. He’s impossible to leave out and in his current form Man City will be looking to him to lead their charge to potentially lift the UEFA Champions League.

Honourable mentions: Joao Moutinho, Jordan Henderson, Declan Rice

RIGHT WING
Mohammed Salah

Another stellar season in which Mo Salah dominated attacking charts and records for Liverpool. Just one goal away from a third consecutive 20+ goal season and he also hit double figures for assists this season. His electric pace, superb movement from the wing and ability to hold the ball up with his back to goal despite his smaller frame are all at a world class level. Regardless of aesthetics, Salah is among the best players in the world and without him Liverpool’s attack would drop a level.

Honourable mentions: Riyad Mahrez, Adama Traore

LEFT WING
Sadio Mane

Much like Salah, Mane is continuing to perform at a world class level in the Premier League. Another season where the Senegal international has notched double figures in goals and was also instrumental in creating. Mane’s goals won more points in this season’s Premier League than anyone else (21). His movement, touch and ability to beat a player one on one is among the greats in the game today and you’ll be hard fought to find a better left-winger for Klopp’s system. His willingness to defend too is a credit to his professionalism and makes him impossible to leave out. He was my contender for Player of the Year along with Kevin De Bruyne, although KDB pipped him towards the end in my opinion.

Honourable mentions: Marcus Rashford, Christian Pulisic

NUMBER 10
Raheem Sterling

Now Sterling’s inclusion will be controversial because he doesn’t play as a No.10 but there was no way I could leave him out. 20 goals in the league with no penalties is a personal best for the England man and his performances are a key reason as to why Man City fans didn’t panic when Sergio Aguero got injured and ruled out for the remainder of the Premier League season. He has mastered the run from outside to in for a back post tap-in but also has the ability to beat players one-on-one, play intricate passes between the lines and link-up with teammates in tight spaces. A truly top class player, Raheem Sterling was a player I simply couldn’t leave out of the side despite the qualities of rivals for this position.

Honourable mentions: Jack Grealish, Bruno Fernandes

STRIKER
Danny Ings

Another slightly controversial pick but Ings deserves recognition in my opinion. While Vardy won the golden boot, he went on a big barren run without a goal and it was ultimately his run of scoring in 9 games in a row earlier in the campaign that got him there. Ings was a consistent goal threat for Southampton this season, has stayed fit and is the reason they were able to turn their season around and end up finishing comfortably in mid-table. 22 league goals in a side that doesn’t create a lot of chances and were fighting for their lives is a mightily impressive return following his injury problems in recent years. His movement, link-up play and finishing with both feet was evident for all to see all season long and he deserves a place in the team of the season mainly due to his, lack of, supporting cast in comparison to his rivals.

Honourable mentions: Jamie Vardy, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Anthony Martial

Do you agree with my team of the year? What would you change? Let me know in the comments or over on Twitter at @TapInsTapOuts.