With the business end of the season vast approaching, the games are coming thick and fast for Jurgen Klopp’s Premier League leaders and the German manager will have to meticulously consider his options over the next few weeks.
Two senior players who desperately need game time are Dejan Lovren and Joel Matip.
Both players have fallen on the peripheral since their respective injuries and with Joe Gomez currently in the form of his life, both central defenders have been usurped as Virgil van Dijk’s current defensive partner.
Matip was on top of the world at the start of the season. The Cameroonian was a European champion having starred in the Champions League victory against Tottenham and took his game to another level at the beginning of the 2019/20 campaign.
The former Schalke man was showcasing such inspiring consistency that in fact, that the PFA named him Player of the Month back in September. For a player who had been in the shadow of Virgil van Dijk, people were finally recognising Matip’s own qualities.
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Meanwhile, Lovren despite being touted with a move away from Anfield in the summer had risen in the pecking order above Gomez following Matip’s knee injury at Old Trafford. The Croatian international was an assured figure alongside Van Dijk and it was injury yet again that would prove to be the hindrance of another blossoming defensive quartet.
Both players have now been forced to be patient since returning to the first-team set-up. In the time the pair have been absent Van Dijk and Gomez have kept 10 Premier League sheets in their previous 11 matches.
The Liverpool duo have played every minute of the Reds’ past 12 league and European matches and either may require a rest in the imminent future.
So how do Lovren and Matip force their way back into Klopp’s plans?
The reality is that their most likely upcoming fixture will come up against Frank Lampard’s Chelsea in the FA Cup fifth-round clash at Stamford Bridge on Tuesday, March 3.
However, with Liverpool only requiring five victories from their remaining 12 league matches to secure their first league title in 30 years, Klopp could look to alternate both player in the team’s remaining dozen matches.
The Reds’ European defence currently hangs in the balance following the 1-0 defeat to Atletico Madrid on Tuesday, Gomez and Van Dijk need to be kept primed and ready for the return leg at Anfield on March 11.
With this in mind, it is highly likely both Matip and Lovren will each still have a part to play in Liverpool’s pursuit of domestic and European glory.