Who Should Replace Injured Scot?
If stories are to be believed, then Andy Robertson could now be sidelined for a minimum of six weeks, given his suspected dislocated shoulder while representing Scotland on Thursday evening. The national team captain was taken off the pitch following a worrying-looking injury, with immediate indications pointing to that severe condition which could sideline him until at least December. Despite Robbo having a poor performance against Brighton in Liverpool’s last outing, it is still abundantly clear that his manager, Jürgen Klopp, holds the experienced defender in the highest of esteem. The first team credentials of the left back would have no doubt continued for the visit of Everton on the 21st October, which now begs the question as to who takes the 29-year-old’s place in the first team against the reds Merseyside rivals.
— AnfieldIndex (@AnfieldIndex) October 12, 2023
Analyzing Past Performances: The Brighton Game
In that previous game against Brighton, a few managerial decisions were made that probably did not aid Liverpool in their defensive efforts. The inclusion (after injury) of Trent Alexander Arnold into the hybrid role relegated Joe Gomez to the bench, despite excelling in his teammate’s absence. In previous Premier League games, the versatile defender had performed to a very high level, combining decent on-ball capabilities with an assured defensive presence. After a season where nothing seemed to go right for the 26-year-old, the long-term injury endured in the 2020/21 season appeared to have ended his brief but tremendous run as an elite level performer. Last season coincided with the realization of a tired midfield operating ahead of him. His first season back was a gentle reintroduction, whereas last year needed more than ever to be a case of giving
Joe Gomez vs West Ham
• 51/60 (85%) passes
• 1 chance created
• 87 touches
• 2/3 dribbles
• 2/2 aerial duels
• 3/3 tackles
• 8/9 duels
• 2 interceptions
• Not dribbled past
Sensational again. He’s not put a foot wrong 👏 pic.twitter.com/ipBWEmMoFd
— LFC Stats (@LFCData) September 24, 2023
Dilemma Over the Replacement: Tsimikas or Gomez?
Despite appreciating Kostas Tsimikas as an adequate back up left back in this elite-level squad, I have major reservations about seeing him operate in the Premier League for any extended period. As a Europa League and domestic cup regular, I am more than happy to see the excitable Greek take as many minutes as possible, certainly in the early stages of said competitions. My main concern centres on his inability to offer assurance and dependability in a system that is far from perfect, while still missing that much sought-after and specialist defensive midfielder. For the visit of Everton (a week on Saturday), I expect Trent to occupy the hybrid role, whereas either Ibrahima Konaté or the rejuvenated Joël Matip should start alongside club captain Virgil van Dijk. This would leave a question mark at left back, one that requires the chosen player to become an auxiliary left-sided centre back in transition.
A Potential Solution and Forward Strategy
In years gone by (predominantly under Brendan Rodgers), Joe Gomez was a player that often filled in at left back and was more than capable in that position. Given that and the fact that a semi-permanent spot is now available in the run-up to Christmas, my overwhelming want would be to see the 6ft 2inch Joe Gomez occupy that role, thereby increasing the team’s defensive reliability through his presence.
The international period is an irritating and difficult reality of the modern game, one that sees so many Liverpool players called up to their respective nations. We may yet see more players fall to injuries over the next week or so, though as it stands, I believe the best option to fill the void (left by Andy Robertson) would be to field both English internationals as the team’s starting fullbacks. Too much invention and overthinking can jeopardize what has been a solid start, which is why the decision is not at all farfetched in my eyes. Joe Gomez is a better defender than Kostas Tsimikas and has shown great form in the league this year. The fact that he was taken out of the team last week was harsh, therefore I hope to see that scenario rectified in game week nine.