Liverpool need Joel Matip more than they need Thiago when they take on Manchester City in the Premier League on Sunday afternoon.
Joel Matip is in line to face Manchester City on Sunday but Thiago looks likely to miss the game. Jurgen Klopp explained as much on Friday in his pre-match press conference.
The Reds will miss the Spaniard, of course, as much as anyone would miss one of the world’s best midfielders. But honestly, Matip being available is the news Liverpool fans should want to hear.
This is undoubtedly one of the biggest games of the Premier League season. You can argue that it’s the outright biggest, given the title implications.
Liverpool and Manchester City have competed for the last two titles, winning one each, and you’d expect them to do so again this season.
Subscribe to Rousing The Kop TV now
You need to be at your best for such a game, then but Liverpool won’t be. Virgil van Dijk is out and so if Fabinho – both would undoubtedly start the game if they were fit.
Liverpool are light in defence, then, as they have been for a few games. Rhys Williams and Nathaniel Phillips have come in at centre-half but both are inexperienced. Very inexperienced, in fact, when it comes to facing a team like City.
Playing them would be a risk, one Liverpool should only take if there aren’t any other options. But Matip being fit would allow the team to have a solid, experienced backline.
The other side of it is that Liverpool might not even want to play Thiago’s game. He’s a possession player but Liverpool are facing a Pep Guardiola side away from home – they won’t dominate the ball no matter how hard they try.
Instead, they’ll likely want to play a counter-attacking style with a very pragmatic, functional midfield. Players who are there to disrupt and break quickly, rather than hold onto the ball.
Jordan Henderson, Gini Wijnaldum and James Milner might be the preferred trio, in that case.
So all things considered, Matip, who Sportrac claim is on £100k-a-week, is the one Liverpool need here. Yes, it would be better to have Thiago – of course. But if the Reds had to pick one, the Cameroonian would surely be the choice.