Curtis Jones didn’t face Real Madrid on Tuesday evening. Despite missing the UEFA Champions League clash, he came out of it in a strong position.
Liverpool’s midfield were terrible against Real Madrid on Tuesday. Jurgen Klopp went with something different, though, using Naby Keita and Gini Wijnaldum either side of Fabinho.
We’d seen the midfield before, most notably in the 7-2 defeat against Aston Villa.
Things weren’t quite that bad in Madrid but still not any good. Keita went off before half-time and the other two were very poor. As Klopp said after the game, he could have taken off anyone.
No one stood up to be counted and not one of them took the game to Real. Wijnaldum did do very well for Liverpool’s goal, of course, but that was it. The rest of his game sorely lacked what the team needed from him – a leader’s role.
Wijnaldum will likely leave this summer, while Keita has failed to make it beyond 45 minutes twice now this season. We can’t help but think, then, that this game helped a player who didn’t feature.
Up and coming
Curtis Jones didn’t play against Real Madrid. He spent the game on the bench, much as he has the last few fixtures.
But this, surely, was a game he’d have liked. Liverpool didn’t have anyone in midfield to push Real the other way. Jones, though, thrives on doing just that.
He’s someone who wants to pick up the ball and run with it. He likes pressing, he likes direct running, and certainly enjoys taking charge.
With Wijnaldum off and Keita struggling, there is a chance for Jones to step up. Whether that’s long-term or in the second leg against Real.
Either way, Jones feels like a player Liverpool sometimes lack. Especially when Jordan Henderson is out. Someone who wants to lead the midfield forwards.
So we hope Klopp considers Jones next time. He could prove the lightening rod in midfield.