One of Jurgen Klopp’s big Liverpool selection dilemmas may have just got a lot simpler – opinion

This article is part of Football FanCast’s Opinion series, which provides analysis, insight and opinion on any issue within the beautiful game, from Paul Pogba’s haircuts to League Two relegation battles…

One of Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp’s biggest selection dilemmas at the beginning of the 2019/20 season has been who partners the imperious Virgil van Dijk at the heart of the defence.

Joe Gomez and Joel Matip are the two frontrunners with Dejan Lovren seemingly fourth choice having failed to make the matchday squad in the Premier League so far, and it was the former who got the nod in their opening two fixtures of the campaign against Manchester City in the Community Shield and Norwich City in the top flight.

The Merseyside outfit conceded in both games, and it was a little bit surprising the Cameroon international didn’t make the XI against the Canaries given he found the net at Wembley against the Citizens just a few days previously.

However, the 28-year-old did line up alongside the Dutchman in the Super Cup against Chelsea in Istanbul in midweek, with Gomez staying in the team but switching to right-back instead.

Following 120 minutes of football plus penalties, the former Schalke man kept his place for the trip to face Southampton on Saturday, and he would have been looking to prove to his manager that he should be ahead of his England international teammate in the pecking order.

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It would be hard to argue that he convincingly did that though, even if Liverpool returned to Merseyside with three points and just the one goal conceded – courtesy of a huge blunder by Adrian.

The scoreline didn’t tell the whole story of what was a difficult day for van Dijk and Matip at times though, with their collective defending letting them down on more than one occasion – whether it was their heavy legs from their Super Cup exertions or not, it was still concerning.

For example in the first half Saints striker Che Adams ghosted in between the duo and should have done better with a header from Oriol Romeu’s cross, while Maya Yoshida had a free header to the centre of the goal from about six yards out that Adrian did well to palm away.

Matip looked far from comfortable on the ball when the likes of Adams and Nathan Redmond pressing him, and his passing accuracy of 78.7% from the match, according to WhoScored, was far from ideal.

Liverpool centre backs Joe Gomez and Joel Matip in Champions League final action e1565628080668 - One of Jurgen Klopp's big Liverpool selection dilemmas may have just got a lot simpler - opinion

The African defender still looks better in the air than he does in possession, even if The Liverpool Echo reported post-match that his passing was improved from in Turkey after issuing their match ratings.

He also made 10 clearances, although some examples of those were him putting the ball into touch even when he wasn’t under serious pressure.

Chances still came in the second half and while neither centre-half could do anything about Danny Ings’ gift, they should have done better when the former Red was left on his own little more than six yards out late on, only to not make enough contact with the ball.

It was another three points on the board but it didn’t come without some negatives, and on this showing anyway Klopp is better off opting for van Dijk and Gomez as his first-choice centre-back pairing.

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