Joel Matip was among Jurgen Klopp’s first-team during Liverpool’s Friday training session at Kirkby. His involvement could potentially see the Cameroonian defender in contention for the Manchester United clash on Sunday.
Finally, some good news on the injury-front, then. Matip could hold the key to Klopp naming his strongest Liverpool XI currently available.
With Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez set to miss the majority of the campaign, Matip has become an indispensable player to Liverpool for a number of reasons.
Solves a number of key issues
For one, his involvement ensures Klopp doesn’t have to rely on the likes of Jordan Henderson to play in an unnatural position. Also, it reduces unnecessary expectations for Rhys Williams and Nat Phillips to step up in his absence.
For the first time since October 17, then, Klopp could have the bulk of his first-choice XI made available to him.
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Not since the Merseyside derby have the likes of Matip, Thiago Alcantara, Fabinho and Henderson featured together.
Also, it was the last time Henderson and Thiago were able to combine in midfield together. Against Everton, both players were exceptional. The pair were directly involved in the dramatic late winner at Goodison, too, that would have stood were it not for a controversial VAR decision.
If Matip is to feature it will be interesting to see who Klopp will pick to complete his midfield triumvirate. He has the likes of Gini Wijnaldum, Xherdan Shaqiri, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Curtis Jones to choose from, after all.
Getting the balance right in midfield will be key, then, especially given how bad things were against Southampton. Liverpool will require and essence of control against United, particularly, if they are to keep Bruno Fernandes and Marcus Rashford at bay.
Matip more than just another player
Klopp’s selection could also have a direct impact on the front-three, too. Liverpool’s pedigreed attacking trident have struggled for goals in recent weeks, and much of this has been due to the lack of creativity from midfield.
Liverpool have been too passive in possession and have lacked that curcial high-risk pass to split open defences. Of course, it is great to have possession, but it’s what you do with it that counts.
Matip can aid the attack, too. His impact to build attacks from the back was a huge miss against Newcastle and Southampton. Liverpool’s midfield was significantly weakoned as a result of Henderson’s transition into defence.
The club-captain has been the key man to drive Liverpool forward, after all. This has been made notable by him being the top central midfielder in the PL for passes made in the final third, as per WhoScored.
His influence in midfield is too great to risk playing Henderson in defence. Luckily, Matip’s boost could solve Klopp one selection headache this weekend.
Altogether, Matip’s inclusion would help solve a collective issue that requires an emphatic response United.