The initial shock of having lost Nathaniel Clyne for the beginning of the season sat heavy. And then, he’s out for what now? Months? And who could Jürgen Klopp call on to fill the void left by the England right back? Well, it was just a couple of youngsters, who were probably electrified at the unexpected chance to turn a hope into a dream. To get called up into this Liverpool team, to maintain the defensive stability of Clyne, to even surpass his attacking efforts. Joe Gomez and Trent Alexander-Arnold, with dizzy grins, mourned not the loss of Clyne. These two Academy starlets. These two lovable scamps. Klopp put confidence in their abilities, told us it would be okay. These two would be fine.
We weren’t so sure way back then. Back in the hazy days of the early season. Alexander-Arnold was eighteen-years-old. Gomez was coming off a long injury layoff and was largely unproven at the senior level, and at Klopp’s intensity level. How? Why? Did Jürgen Klopp find some joy in watching Liverpool supporters writhe on the floor of uncertainty that such a dubious decision had built? Or did he know something we didn’t? Did he know that these dudes would know what’s what?
Because they do.
Joe Gomez had to step aside for Alexander-Arnold in the Champions League victory over NK Maribor but the 20-year-old defender performed impressively against Manchester United over the weekend, providing both defensive strength and an eye for getting into attacking positions.
Alexander-Arnold put in another good European performance on Tuesday, shutting down his side, making a menace of himself up the right, and getting a goal for himself to boot. It was the seventh goal for a Liverpool side that saw a chance to make some headlines and took it.
“We are always really hungry for goals,” said TAA.
“We always knew we had the goals in us and it was just a matter of when and where they would come for us.
“They came in abundance for us against Maribor and we’ll be looking to kick on from this result.
“We’re really satisfied. We came with a game plan and executed it perfectly. When the subs came on, they carried on the good work.
“We scored seven goals and got a clean sheet. You can’t ask for much more. We’ll be looking to do it against Tottenham as well.”
But Spurs will prove to be a different opposition all together, I’m afraid. They will play attacking football, to Liverpool’s advantage. But Tottenham have a hearty defensive brain that will be tough to break down even as Harry Kane and company pour forward.
Nobody will be expecting a scoreline to rival that at the whistle in Maribor. 0-7 Reds. But if Liverpool truly have turned a goalscoring corner. If they’ve seen the light. If they are now running head-on into Clinical-Finishingville.
If they’ve gone to the mountain of the final third and bested the gloved wizard, it’s not inconceivable that we might see these European showboats start to work those magic feet in the league as well. All the young reds.