Jurgen Klopp has revealed to Goal that Joe Gomez, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson have been handed special leadership responsibilities to help organise Liverpool’s defensive quartet.
Virgil van Dijk was previously the club’s defensive lynchpin and chief organiser but his long-term absence has provided opportunities elsewhere for players to step up.
Rhys Williams was handed his first Champions League start for the club as the 19-year-old defender partnered Gomez during Liverpool’s 5-0 victory against Atalanta in midweek.
It was the 36th central defensive pairing the manager has combined since he took charge of the Reds in 2015 and the manager said how he is now entrusting his defenders to take up more vocal roles from within the team.
“We had to change because Virg is not there anymore, so we share the responsibility,” he said.
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“We put it on 10 shoulders instead of one, and it was incredibly good what the last line did, supported by all the others.
“Everybody has to step up now; Robbo [Andy Robertson], Trent [Alexander-Arnold] and Joe [Gomez], they are in charge. If Joel [Matip] plays then it is different but if it is one of the young players, then they have to demand and command that line.”
Time to step up
Gomez, in particular, has stepped up to his new role fantastically in the absence of his central defensive partner and ‘big brother’ like figure Van Dijk.
The England international has started every match since Van Dijk suffered an ACL rupture against Everton last month.
In the five matches, Liverpool have had to cope without the irreplaceable Dutchman they have clocked up five victories as well as three consecutive clean sheets in Europe.
While Klopp’s new-look defence has so far coped admirably by the number of defensive casualties, Liverpool await their biggest test of the season when they travel to the Etihad Stadium to face Manchester City on Sunday.
The Reds have a miserable record in the league away to Pep Guardiola’s team with Klopp yet to get the better of the Spaniard at his home ground in the Premier League since he was appointed City manager in 2016 – in-fact, Liverpool have lost their previous three away visits to the Etihad.
Let’s hope Sunday is the day that miserable run ends.
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