Joel Matip could be in contention to make a return from injury against Manchester United, according to reports. Such claims come directly from The Mirror. If this is indeed true, it would directly benefit both Jordan Henderson and Thiago Alcantara.
Matip, 29, has been absent in Liverpool’s previous two matches, after sustaining an adductor injury during the 1-1 draw with West Brom.
As a result, Henderson was forced to deputise in central defence in the defender’s absence. Despite an overall well-rounded performance at the back during the defeat to Southampton, Liverpool suffered without their club-captain in midfield.
Back to the status quo
The Reds lacked their usual bite and intensity in the middle of the park without the skipper marshalling his troops in his more naturally suited role. His transition into defence, effectively solves one problem yet creates another.
Thiago Alcantara was another player to suffer as a result of Henderson’s transition into defence. The Spaniard wasn’t able to dictate the flow of the game to his liking and was forced to operate from deep far too often.
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At times, it seemed as if Liverpool were playing with a back-three. They weren’t able to get out of the traps with Henderson’s energy and drive in midfield a big miss.
If Liverpool are as passive against United as they were during the Southampton defeat, we could be in big trouble.
Timely return for Matip
Luckily, Klopp could have the perfect alternative to avoid such a scenario unfolding. The addition of Matip will enable Henderson to return alongside Thiago in midfield.
Klopp’s best midfield is arguably Henderson [£20 million], Thiago [£20 million] and Fabinho [£39 million]. However, they have started just one match together all season – the Merseyside derby on October 17.
Fabinho and Henderson have proved they are able to adapt and do a job in Liverpool’s back-line. Unfortunately, their absence in midfield is too big a miss for a long-term partnership to emerge.
For now, Matip’s return effectively solves the defensive issue. The main worry is for how long, however. The Cameroonian has managed to last the full 90 minutes on just five separate occasions all season.
Still, with the United game rapidly approaching, Matip’s reported return is a major boost for Liverpool. The Reds defender hasn’t lost a PL match all season, after all.
Let’s hope such a rich reign of form continues against the Red Devils at Anfield in two weekend’s time.