Joe Gomez has had his fair share of formidable opponents throughout his flourishing central defensive partnership alongside Virgil van Dijk.
During this period, Gomez has lined up against Sergio Aguero, Eden Hazard, Edinson Cavani, Kylian Mbappe, Neymar, Jamie Vardy, Dries Mertens and Lorenzo Insigne just to name a few. However, none will offer the same threat that Troy Deeney can oppose when the Englishman lines up against his fellow countryman Gomez.
Deeney is set to face off against his greatest defensive counter-part Virgil van Dijk at Vicarage Road in the latest instalment between the two opponents.
The 31-year-old has made his admiration for Van Dijk well documented following the UEFA Player of the Year’s incredible rise since his £75m move from Southampton in 2018.
“I’ve said it many times, I hate him,” Deeney told BBC Radio 5. “I hate going up against him.
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“He’s too big, too strong, too quick, too good on the ball, loves fighting, a good head of hair.”
With these comments in consideration, it is highly likely that a player as adept and streetwise as Deeney will fancy his strengths will be better utilised against Gomez as opposed to Van Dijk.
Deeney thrives off bullying his opponents and engaging his counterparts in a battle of wits that the Watford skipper nine times out of ten tends to notoriously win.
Gomez is a player who has risen to the stop due to his extraordinary athleticism and blistering recovery pace. Unlike his central defensive partner, Gomez isn’t as bullish or as commanding as Van Dijk nor is he as superior in the air making the Englishman more of a primed target for Deeney to thrive against.
However, it is worth noting how faultless Gomez has been since being reinstated in the team alongside the big Dutchman. In the 12 Premier League matches the pair have started since December, Liverpool have registered 10 cleans sheets and have conceded just three goals.
Gomez has proven he can not only cope with the pressure but that he instead relishes under it. Alongside the player he describes as ‘my big brother’, the former Charlton defender has developed an aura that is well beyond his years.
With the prospect of one of the Premier League’s greatest powerhouses going toe-to-toe with one of the top-flight’s brightest up-and-coming talents, all of a sudden Watford’s domestic bout with Liverpool will be observed with that extra added intrigue.