The boldest selection decision Klopp could make for Liverpool vs Everton
Photo by John Powell/Liverpool FC via Getty Images

Bringing in Joel Matip would be a bold change for Klopp this weekend

There are a number of changes Liverpool could look to make this weekend following on from that crushing defeat to Aston Villa before the international break. None of them would have such a seismic ripple as if Jurgen Klopp were to go with Joel Matip ahead of Joe Gomez.

Gomez, 23, has by no means been bad this season, which seems odd to say considering Liverpool have shipped in 11 goals in four Premier League matches. The defensive shortcomings of the team are a collective failure and not just down to one player.

Aston Villa’s English striker Ollie Watkins (C) shoots past Liverpool’s English defender Joe Gomez (R) to score their second goal during the English Premier League football match between Aston Villa and Liverpool at Villa Park in Birmingham, central England on October 4, 2020. (Photo by Catherine Ivill / POOL / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or ‘live’ services. Online in-match use limited to 120 images. An additional 40 images may be used in extra time. No video emulation. Social media in-match use limited to 120 images. An additional 40 images may be used in extra time. No use in betting publications, games or single club/league/player publications. / (Photo by CATHERINE IVILL/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

But at some point you have to consider that even if Gomez is not the source of the problem, he isn’t helping it either.

Liverpool have another central defensive option desperate for his opportunity in the team having recently returned to full fitness.

Klopp has so far been limited with his defensive options due to the recent injury setbacks to Joel Matip meaning Gomez’s place in the team has been relatively unchallenged so far this season.

Matip’s return will make Klopp’s next selection tougher, especially when you consider what we all witnessed at Villa Park before the international break.

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The Cameroonian centre-back will feel he is owed an opportunity at some stage, and against Everton this weekend might actually be a good opportunity to bring him in.

Matip, 29, is a commanding and assuring presence at the back and his dominance from an aerial threat will be key especially given the inspiring recent form of Dominic Calvert-Lewin.

Last season, Matip won 5.2 of his defensive duels which surpassed that of both Van Dijk (5.0) and Gomez (2.7) according to WhoScored. It is a quality that is particularly beneficial in helping the Reds reclaim the ball and then maintaining possession.

Another factor in Matip’s corner is Klopp’s preferred use of a high defensive line which left Liverpool – especially in the case at Villa – vulnerable to long balls over the top which creates a greater onus for suitable cover in the air to avoid the risk of being split open from lofted passes.

Gomez meanwhile, did not exactly cover himself in glory in the defeat to Villa as he was ran ragged by Ollie Watkins before being hooked off after the hour mark.

Out and swiftly back in

One performance will not define his Liverpool career neither does it raise legitimate cause to drop Gomez on Saturday. However, Klopp does not have to frame it that way.

Matip could come into the defence against Everton, as he did in the same fixture last season to give the defence a boost, before days later, Gomez reclaims his place for the Champions League fixture away to Ajax.

Also, with Gomez still away on international duty and Matip currently training at Melwood enables Klopp more time with the latter to adequately prepare his defensive system for Saturday’s short trip across Stanley Park.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND – OCTOBER 13: (THE SUN OUT. THE SUN ON SUNDAY OUT) Joel Matip of Liverpool during a training session at Melwood Training Ground on October 13, 2020 in Liverpool, England. (Photo by John Powell/Liverpool FC via Getty Images)

Klopp may realise that if Liverpool are to thrive with this defensive high-line, Matip might be a better option than Gomez.

Luckily for the manager, the games are coming thick-and-fast meaning rotation will become more acceptable on a game-by-game basis which will reduce the media attention if Klopp does look to use Matip more regularly.

That is why Klopp may be tempted to put him in against Everton, see how he fares, and then look to see if Gomez bounces back in the Champions League.

Only then will Klopp be able to gauge who is preferred choice is to partner Virgil van Dijk more regularly and who is a better option for future Premier League matches such as Sheffield United, West Ham and Manchester City.

Given Gomez’s involvement during the international break, throwing Matip into one of these would be an even braver call than doing so against Everton.

Calling Matip into the side would be a bold call in itself this weekend, but the timing could be ideal, both to give the team a boost, and to further assess him for future chances.

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