If you follow me on twitter, you know I am an unabashed fan of Curtis Jones. The young Scouse midfielder has quick feet, fantastic technical ability, and the self-assuredness to step onto the field with one of the best teams in the world and just...belong.
Liverpool entered the game against Leicester City in a tight spot. Jordan Henderson was injured while on international duty with England, and Thiago was still not fit enough to feature as well. In addition, Fabinho and James Milner were needed to fill roles in the defensive unit, meaning that there was a dearth of midfielder for Jurgen Klopp to choose from.
While Curtis Jones may have been given a starting role by default, he certainly didn’t look like a 19 year old getting an emergency start against the top team in the table. The local lad put in a tactical masterclass.
Jones barely put a foot wrong all game, which was impressive considering he has 86 touches during the game. That was highest of all midfield players and fourth highest on the team - the three players ahead of him were defenders. He was always moving into positions to receive the ball, whether checking deep as an option for defenders or making a run into an attacking position.
While Jones had a lot of bright moments, his ability to make the right decision at the right time was probably the most impressive aspect to his game. Jones always looked to be positive with his possession and movement if the option was there, but he never forced anything. With his head up when receiving the ball, he made quick decisions whether to split the defense or to recycle possession. He ended the game with an almost 92% pass completion rate on 72 passes.
Young Curtis was just as impressive on the defensive end of things. The highlight will his lung-busting recovery run to get back and make a key tackle on Jamie Vardy to snuff out a counterattack. He also did a lot of tactical defending in the second half, providing support to the just-as-young Neco Willimas when the Welshman came into the game at right back.
With Liverpool playing twice a week until January 2nd (12 games!!!), Curtis Jones should have several more opportunities to impress. Thiago could be back this week, with Jordan Henderson potentially back in another weeks time, but Naby Keita is injured yet again. Jones should have the opportunity to prove that he is ready to make himself a regular in Klopp’s rotation, and cement himself in the team’s plans for the future.