Cody Gakpo’s Steady Rise Despite Liverpool’s Struggles

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Cody Gakpo’s Liverpool Struggles: A Victim of His Own Success?

Liverpool’s promising season took a dramatic turn as they put in a woeful display in their 3-0 home defeat to Atalanta in the Europa League Quarter-Final at Anfield on Thursday. The Reds put in a quite shameful team performance as their European dreams were left in tatters after just the first leg.

Despite the long list of poor performers, there was one slight positive to take from the night though and that was Cody Gakpo. Now, it may be a simple case of the Dutchman being the best of a bad bunch – but I actually think he played quite well.

Gakpo’s Recent Growth

In fact, I’d even say that despite Liverpool’s recent stutters, Gakpo has a much improved few weeks. More specifically, Liverpool fans can take some form of confidence from his past three performances.

That started with his impressive substitute appearance in Liverpool’s 3-1 victory over Sheffield United last Thursday. After coming onto the pitch with the score level, Gakpo played his part to change the game on its head and even grabbing a goal in that crucial victory.

Gakpo also impressed in Liverpool’s 2-2 draw with Manchester United on Sunday and was undoubtedly one of the standout performers.

Photo: IMAGO

Best of a Bad Bunch

Gakpo looked much more confident last night, despite the woeful performance of the team. He was the only player on the pitch that looked like he wanted to at least try and grab the game by the scruff of the neck and make something happen.

That showed in his statistics from the game too.

Gakpo completed the most dribbles (5) on the pitch, whilst also creating the most chances (5), winning the most tackles (2), winning the most fouls (4) and winning the most duels (11). It’s hard to criticise Gakpo’s performance when you consider those statistics, its just a shame that more of the players didn’t share the intensity and tenacity of Gakpo.

Analysing Gakpo’s 23/24 Season

It has certainly been a frustrating season for Gakpo, being thrown from one position to another constantly. He has actually very rarely played in his preferred position so I find it hard to criticise him too much. It’s obvious that his best position is in the false-nine role, but it seems that Jurgen Klopp prefers both Darwin Nunez and Diogo Jota in that role instead.

Therefore, Gakpo has played most of his games out wide or even as one of the three central midfielders. Despite this, Gakpo still has 14 goals and four assists so far this season, which really isn’t a bad return. Especially when you consider that he has only played 43% of Liverpool’s Premier League minutes this season.

Last season was seen as a huge success for Gakpo, following his arrival from PSV in January. This season has saw his output increase with less game time, but yet he’s under more scrutiny than ever. I personally think that it’s down to his overall game not quite being as good and his severe lack of confidence surely won’t help – as revealed by Klopp himself.

In some ways, I see him as a system player in the same way that Jordan Henderson and Roberto Firmino were. He sacrifices his own game regularly to bring others into the game, but when his overall game drops, it can be very easily seen as going missing – especially in big games.

I definitely agree that Gakpo has been frustrating at times this season, but some fans are definitely being way over the top with some of the criticism being thrown his way. I remain sure that he has a future at Liverpool and at the age of 24-years-old, he could still become very successful at Anfield.

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