Nathaniel Clyne has yet to play a minute for Liverpool this season. The news broke earlier this week that the England right-back’s injury woes are to continue, with a successful back surgery set to keep him out of action for a further three months. LFC Transfer Room’s Karan Uka Singh (@K16_LFC) looks at how the Reds have fared in Clyne’s absence, and who has staked a claim as first-choice right-back.
Nathaniel Clyne has been very reliable at right-back during his time so far with the Reds. Despite this, he occasionally received criticism last season for not providing enough in an attacking sense. However, from a defensive point of view, Clyne is perhaps even underrated, as we have rarely seen him bullied by an opponent. Liverpool’s backline has been much maligned in recent years, but Clyne may be the least of the problems.
Fortunately for the Reds, Jürgen Klopp has had to promising young deputies waiting in the wings, and so far this season, they’ve more than managed to pick up the slack.
In Clyne’s absence, we have seen Gomez return to the first team after two injury stricken seasons. He, of course, won his first two England caps during the international break, and his performances earned him plenty of praise. These types of displays have become a regular occurrence for Gomez this season. Not many defenders in Europe can say that they have kept the likes of Alexis Sanchez, Anthony Martial and Neymar quiet for 90 minutes; Gomez, however has managed to pocket all three so far this season.
The way in which Gomez handled the world’s most expensive player, Neymar, proved once again that, despite only being 20 years old, he does not seem to fear the name on the back of the jersey.
For England, Gomez played as a centre-back in a back three, and being a natural centre-back, his attacking play, like Clyne in some ways, is perhaps limited with his crossing being considerably weaker than Trent Alexander-Arnold (more on him below). This suggests that Gomez should perhaps get more of a chance at centre-back for the Reds, considering our problems in this position. However, at the moment, Klopp seems to think right-back is the position for him to develop.
Almost every fan is excited by local lad Alexander-Arnold. His crossing ability, his confidence in going past players, as well as the two goals he has scored in the Champions League suggest he may be our best right-back in an attacking sense. However, it is clear that defending is an area that needs some improvement.
Our 5-0 loss to Man City, a game which we all want to forget, was a harsh but true reminder of this. Butthere shouldn’t be too many worries — at just 19 years of age, Alexander-Arnold’s immense talent is clear to see, and he has plenty of time to develop further.
Considering the players’ attributes, Liverpool do not seem to have a right-back who is equally good at attacking and defending. Clyne and Gomez are both solid defensively, but do not offer as much going forward as Alexander-Arnold. That being said, the Reds have plenty of attacking talent going forward, whereas defensively we are known to be prone to errors; therefore, Gomez would be my first-choice to keep Liverpool as solid as possible at the back. A fully fit Clyne is Liverpool’s first-choice right-back without doubt given his experience, but at the moment, I am sure that we will continue to see rotation between Gomez and Trent, with Jürgen feeling that they are both too young to be starting every game.