Neco Williams shows that the first Premier League start will not be his last after the showing in Brighton
A passed pass of 70 meters, a perfectly timed tackle and then a yellow card before being dipped at half-time … Neco Williams shows that Liverpool’s first Premier League start will not be his last
- Neco Williams made the first Premier League start in Liverpool’s 3-1 win in Brighton
- Promising fullback is rising star and showed it in flashes including 70m pass
- Jordan Henderson roared at him, leaving the youngster in no doubt about the standards
- Williams was eliminated at half-time after a yellow card in the first period
First there was a blindness, then there was a growl, and finally there was a gesture. It was 34 minutes after the first start of Neco Williams’ Premier League when he really understood the standards a Liverpool player should meet.
The right back of Wales Under-21 got a chance to start on the other side of the field, as Jurgen Klopp wanted to keep Andrew Robertson. Williams, a calm and unassuming young man, had caught the eye with his bubbly and ball use.
Williams is one of the many newbies who are thriving on Klopp’s squad and thrive with fellow teens Curtis Jones and Harvey Elliott.
Neco Williams got his first Premier League start in the 3-1 win over Brighton
They will all have the Premier League winner medals by the end of this campaign, and their manager is determined that their progress deserves the gong.
A 70-meter field ball, for example, went like an arrow in the feet of Trent Alexander-Arnold; there had also been some dangerous flank cuts every time he shot forward to add his weight to Liverpool’s attack.
Best of all, however, was the tackle on Leandro Trossard in the 19th minute when it looked as if the Belgian was about to halve the lead Liverpool had built up from racing the blocks.
There was no room for error, but the challenge of expropriating Trossard was impeccable.
The youngster is one of a pairing that Jurgen Klopp is slowly introducing to the first team
But here, in the 34th minute, there was a slight hesitation. Williams had taken a moment to work out what he wanted to do when he got possession of Virgil van Dijk and Brighton midfielder Davy Propper, who suppressed him and created an opportunity for Neale Maupay.
Joe Gomez came to the rescue, but that didn’t save Williams. As Liverpool regrouped, Jordan Henderson roared at the 19-year-old to leave him with no doubts about what it takes to thrive on this team. Every second and every action counts to excel for the champions.
It was a beneficial lesson one evening that he will not forget for a number of reasons, not least because of the joust he had with the great Tariq Lamptey, Brighton’s right back loan from Chelsea. Lamptey was a constant threat, causing Williams problems.
Tariq Lamptey (right) caused problems for Williams and the fullback was withdrawn at halftime
Indeed, the most significant came in the 41st minute when Williams got together and received a yellow card – a move that forced Klopp’s hand to knock him out at break, ensuring that his team retained 11 men. Robertson was called off the stands to restore balance.
“It was just the yellow card and nothing else,” said Klopp. “We didn’t protect him well enough. This was his first professional start (in the Premier League) – I couldn’t tell him he couldn’t take it anymore. I liked a lot of what I saw. He is confident. He learns and that is no problem. ‘
He may have been discouraged from not finishing the game, but he shouldn’t have: the past 12 months have been huge for Williams, who was Man-of-the-Match in cup games at Anfield against Arsenal and Shrewsbury. Klopp knows his value for the group. This start will not be his last. Not for a long time.
Jurgen Klopp said he knocked out Williams at the break for taking a yellow card