Jurgen Klopp has praised a new-look full-back duo after an impressive performance in Liverpool’s 1-0 win over Crystal Palace.
The Reds boss made several changes to his starting lineup from the team that beat Hoffenheim during the week, including the introduction of Joe Gomez and Andrew Robertson at right-back and left-back, respectively.
Saturday’s start served as Robertson’s debut in the Premier League for Liverpool following his £8million move, rising to £10million, from Hull City earlier in the transfer window.
It was similarly a big occasion for Gomez, who was making a rare start having been sidelined for most of 2016 with a long-term knee injury.
Both proved to be reliable options, not that Klopp himself was at all surprised.
“It was really good, but it wasn’t in doubt [that changes would be made], to be honest,” he told Liverpoolfc.com.
“We spoke about the situation with Nathaniel Clyne, he couldn’t train so far with the team, in the whole pre-season he maybe had two sessions with the team, so he’s not available and it’ll probably stay like this That Trent and Joe showed up like this, that’s really important, and we still have Flanno [too], which for us is very important.”
“On the other side it’s the same: Alberto had a perfect pre-season and played really well so far, and Robbo was probably not in the best moment – last week not in the squad, the week before not in the squad – but we need to have the opportunity to do something like this today and when the players then play like this then it’s the best reaction they can show.”
“I think everybody could see how good Robbo, especially in the offensive situations, can be with a few more sessions.”
“His crosses are a real threat. When you think a little bit about how you would feel if you were playing your first game at Anfield – you cannot be full of joy, there’s a lot of pressure on yourself and he did really well.”
“Joe, no surprise. Of course he was a long time injured and it was a difficult time for him, but no doubt about the quality.”
It remains to be early days, but both Gomez and Robertson have already shown a potential to later be looked back on as inspired bargain signings.
To see the pair play 90 minutes at a competitive level for the Reds was a useful insight into not only how far along they are in their development but also what kind of role they may play this season.
If Robertson doesn’t retain his place in the starting lineup for the next game, then he certainly represents fierce competition for Alberto Moreno to respond to.
Likewise for Joe Gomez, who will no doubt push not only Trent Alexander-Arnold at right-back, but also Liverpool’s centre-back options.