Liverpool Football Club have been involved in what has been a bit of a fairy tale start so far. Luck? Sure, there’s been some of that. There’s also been hard work and grit and determination.
Part of the recipe for that success thus far has been the ability for Jurgen Klopp to draw from a deep bench of players to help rotate through any fixture congestion. Which isn’t to say that it’s been terribly busy - just the normal type of busy for a team challenging for silverware in all competitions.
What this means is that Jurgen Klopp can relegate a player with the years of service and quality of Dejan Lovren to the bench and call on the likes of a Joe Gomez to fill-in for an injured Joel Matip. Which is exactly what happened in Liverpool’s midweek Champions League tie against Red Bull Salzburg.
Gomez spent much of last season rehabilitating from a serious injury and thus hasn’t seen as much playing time of late. That he would be rusty is not a surprise. Still, a lot of the match against Salzburg saw JoeGo seemingly being a step off the pace and having to recover a lot as players took advantage of the high defensive line by slipping in behind him.
Inevitably, Gomez found himself the focus of concern following a match in which Liverpool would count themselves relatively lucky to have walked away with the full points. It makes sense given that the only real change between this team and the previous one was Joel Matip out for Joe Gomez. The path to the conclusion that JoeGo was the problem is understandable if simplistic.
Jurgen Klopp, though, took time to defend the young center back during his pre-match comments ahead of Leicester City.
“It would be really not fair to make Joe responsible for the goals we conceded, that was not the case. But especially in the first half an hour, nobody could see any issues between the two boys, we were just exceptional for the first half an hour and these two guys as well.”
Liverpool are in the rare and enviable position of being able to choose to work in a player like Joe Gomez in very specific places to get him match fit. It’s clear that the lad has talent and the backing of the boss to potentially be the locked-in choice next to Virgil Van Dijk and, perhaps, the heir apparent to the Dutchman.
But that he’d play like someone a bit off the pace after being on the injured list for so long is also not surprising. It appears that, based on Klopp’s comments, the boss feels the same. Patience, then, rules the day. As it ever was, here at a Liverpool that is calm and composed.