‘A must’ - Pundit backs Liverpool defender for World Cup spot after Man City win

Garth Crooks has included three Liverpool players in his BBC Team of the Week after their win over Man City

Garth Crooks has praised ‘focused and committed’ Joe Gomez after his performance for Liverpool at the weekend. The defender was one of three Reds’ players to be included in the Team of the Week.

Gomez featured from the start as they hosted Manchester City on Sunday afternoon, with Trent Alexander-Arnold only making the bench after suffering an ankle injury against Arsenal. The centre-back had been poor earlier in the season but looked completely transformed as he kept out Erling Haaland for only the second time since he moved to England.

Gomez slotted straight into Crooks’ Team of the Week and the former striker tipped the 25-year-old for a place in the England squad.

Writing in his BBC Sport column, Crooks said: “If there was a player you might have targeted to be the weak link in Liverpool’s defensive line up against City it would almost certainly have been Joe Gomez. He wasn’t expected to start the game in the first place but more importantly, struggled with his form this season.

“Man City dominated much of this encounter but at no time did they dominate Gomez. The defender looked backed to his focused and committed best. In fact, the game brought out the best in the England defender and on this form is a must for Qatar.”

Gomez hasn’t earned an international cap since September 2020 when the Three Lions thrashed Wales 3-0 in a friendly. Meanwhile, Crooks also included James Milner and Mohamed Salah for their excellent performances at Anfield.

Milner was forced to fill in at right-back after Ibrahima Konate was sidelined and impressed fans after what has been a difficult start to the campaign for him. Crooks said: “His [Milner] performance against his former club in Sunday’s 1-0 win at Anfield was extraordinary. Milner is unflappable, dependable and above all an exceptional professional, and I’m not in the least bit surprised Jurgen Klopp refuses to let him out of his sights.”

While it was Gomez that received the Man of the Match award on Sunday, it was Salah’s goal that proved the difference after an exceptional bit of play from the Egyptian. Salah’s first Premier League goal since August came only four days after his superb hat-trick against Rangers.

On Salah, Crooks said: “You couldn’t take your eyes off the Liverpool-Man City match and it was Mohamed Salah at his best. He scored a hat-trick in midweek in the Champions League against Rangers and so was in the mood against City.

“It was schoolboy marking by Joao Cancelo that allowed Salah in on goal but you have to ask the question why weren’t Manuel Akanji or Ruben Dias marking the Egyptian? Once Salah was one-on-one with Ederson the game was over. A great game of football refereed brilliantly by Anthony Taylor.”

The rest of Crooks’ team included former Liverpool striker Dominic Solanke, who scored his second goal of the season for Bournemouth against Fulham at the weekend.