VAR dominated the headlines this weekend in the Premier League but when it comes to things on the pitch, one man stood out.
Our Premier League Player of the Week is …
Cody Gakpo (Liverpool)
“In attack, Diaz started his Liverpool career brilliantly but Nunez is a work in progress, and I am baffled watching Gakpo’s early performances. Gakpo is not a typical Klopp signing, lacking lightning pace and the capacity to lead a high press.
“Why commit up to £45 million on someone who will be on the bench when Diaz and Diogo Jota are fit? Especially when another area of the team needed strengthening?”
That was Jamie Carragher’s view of Cody Gakpo in his Telegraph column on Monday morning, prior to the Merseyside derby.
It was some harsh criticism from a Reds great but before the match against Everton, it was hard to argue with anything that ex-England international was saying.
Gakpo arrived from PSV Eindhoven on Boxing Day evening as a late Christmas gift that was supposed to reinvigorate a failing campaign.
His time at Anfield could not have started any worse.
The Netherlands international had starred in the World Cup group stages but was immediately named in the Reds XI for their FA Cup clash with Wolves and looked lost as they drew 2-2.
Lacking fitness and struggling to adapt to Liverpool’s style of play, the youngster seemed like a rabbit in the headlights as Liverpool lost to Brighton and Wolves in the Premier League.
Gakpo started both of those games – as well as the draw with Chelsea – and offered very little out on the left flank.
His link-up play with Andy Robertson seemed non-existent and although there were flashes of an understanding with Mohamed Salah and Darwin Nunez, Gakpo was starting to feel like an expensive squad player who would be turfed back to the Eredivisie in a couple of years.
But that changed on Monday night.
Of course it’s difficult to look good in a bad team, no matter how good you are, but at Anfield against Everton the tides of opinion changed.
With Liverpool seemingly back to their fluent best in all departments, Gakpo was a man reborn.
The 23-year-old won all seven of his duels with opponents, earned back possession six times and created two big chances for team mates.
He then capped of his performance with a first Liverpool goal, tapping in at the back post to seal a 2-0 win and earn a big hug from compatriot Virgil van Dijk.
The goal helped secure Liverpool their first win of 2023 and made Jamie Carragher happily eat humble pie.