Joel Matip is officially under a huge amount of pressure to get fit to face Manchester United. The defender is a doubt for Sunday’s game.
Liverpool will be second when they host Manchester United at Anfield on Sunday. What an unusual position to be in.
But United’s win over Burnley on Tuesday puts them three points clear at the top. Just like that, Sunday’s game got even bigger.
Liverpool need to win it in order to reclaim top spot but, arguably more importantly, they need to avoid defeat. Losing would put them six points back and firmly in a patch of rotten form.
How do you avoid defeat? With a strong defence, of course. And that’s why there is so much pressure on Matip to get fit for the United game.
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Liverpool can put out a fantastic title-winning XI – but not much more than that. They lack depth all over the pitch thanks to an injury crisis.
They particularly lack it at the back, though. The Reds went into this season with just three senior centre-halves but haven’t actually had any over the last few games.
Fabinho is deputising very well but he’s a defensive midfielder. The first-choice options are all out.
Now, Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez certainly won’t be back for Sunday. Matip could be, though. And it’s vital that he is.
Liverpool won’t want to go up against United’s counter-attack with Fabinho alongside a youngster like Rhys Williams. The duo did perform well against Tottenham Hotspur but it’s still a risk you don’t want to take.
The Mirror says that Matip still hasn’t proven his fitness and is running out of time. That’s a big worry, then.
This is arguably the biggest game of the season. Liverpool will feel they need to win, on top of that.
It’s vital Matip is fit, then. If he is, the Reds are surely huge favourites. Without him, it’s firmly up for grabs.