Liverpool duo Neco Williams and Rhys Williams deserve credit for their performance v Arsenal. It was a difficult week for the former.
Jurgen Klopp took a chance on Thursday as he played both Neco Williams and Rhys Williams against Arsenal. Not only that, but he played the two 19-year-olds alongside each other on the right.
And just look at who played down Arsenal’s left – Bukayo Saka, fresh off an England call-up – and Nicolas Pepe, a £72m signing. But the young duo managed to keep a clean sheet.
Tons of faith
Klopp put his faith in the youngsters, then, knowing that one would have to cover the other on that side. It’s different if Virgil van Dijk or Joe Gomez plays alongside the full-back. Both are experienced, title-winning defenders – they can help carry a youngster through it.
But to have two youngsters on the same side takes guts and confidence. Klopp clearly has that in the two Williams’s, however, and it bodes well for their future.
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We already know that Neco Williams has a first-team future with Liverpool. He’s started Premier League games and is a regular squad member. But Rhys Williams is new to all this. Still, Klopp trusted him to help Neco after a difficult week for the Welshman.
Neco Williams received abuse online for his recent performances. So much so, in fact, that Virgil van Dijk apparently took the time to help him through it.
No matter what way you cut it, that’s awful. He’s 19 and new to first-team football – people should barely judge his performances, let alone condemn them.
But regardless of how awful it is, Neco still had to deal with it. And he dealt with it wonderfully well on Thursday. He helped keep Arsenal at bay, knowing full well that mistakes would bring about more criticism from certain people.
And credit to Rhys Williams, too. He had to play as a very inexperienced defender up against some very good players, knowing the pressure the player to his right was under.
But again, he played very well and played a great part in a clean sheet.
Both players demonstrated a great mentality. One that will, hopefully, take each of them far in the game and at Liverpool.