The Premier League is back, and so were the goals in last night’s thrilling affair between defending champions Liverpool and newly promoted Leeds United. It was dodgy defence vs dodgy defence; a game of who could make the next mistake, and who could score the next goal.
In the end, Liverpool came out on top as the away side made one mistake too many to hand the Reds the victory and Mohamed Salah the match ball from the spot. The game will go down as a classic in the history of opening day fixtures with Bielsa ball exposing a recurring Liverpool problem that Jürgen Klopp will be desperate to fix.
Is Joël Matip the Solution to Liverpool’s Problem?
Liverpool Still Struggling With Title Hangover
For much of last season, Liverpool’s defence was untouchable as the Reds finished the season with the least amount of goals conceded. But as the partying began, following title victory, that same defence began to leak the goals. And the leak is yet to be fixed. At the back end of last season, when the games were meaningless with the title wrapped up, a loss of concentration was excusable.
Last night’s unorganised and chaotic defensive performance cannot be met with the same excuses, however. The game had something riding on it; the partying has been over for a while. Liverpool were expected to return to their cool, calm and collected selves at the back.
Instead, the goals continued to leak without a solution in sight. Jürgen Klopp needs someone to play the role of plumber to prevent the leak. And that’s where Joël Matip comes in.
Joël Matip: Liverpool’s Unsung Hero
When fit, Joël Matip is one of the most underrated central defenders in the Premier League. Many will have you believe that he is nothing more than Liverpool’s version of Phil Jones when he is anything but. Next to Virgil Van Dijk, Liverpool look impenetrable at times.
His calmness on the ball, though, admittedly, sometimes petrifying to watch, helps bring the Reds forward. His tall stature often puts him in a good position in the air, too. The fact is, Matip just has that extra composure in which Joe Gomez currently lacks.
Joe Gomez is a fantastic young defender who formed an almost unstoppable partnership with Van Dijk last season. Since lockdown, though, that partnership has looked much weaker, and even chaotic at times. Just last night, Gomez himself was consistently found out of position as Leeds looked likely to score with each attack.
Matip Must Overcome Injury Issues
Even Van Dijk, often the calmest man on the pitch, found himself making uncharacteristic mistakes. Against Chelsea, perhaps it’s time to reintroduce Joël Matip and his welcomed composure to proceedings.
Many people seem to forget that, up until his injury, Matip was probably Liverpool’s best player last season, picking up the August Premier League Player of The Month award before picking up the poorly timed injury.
And it’s the injuries which have been the problem for Matip; he has failed to regain his place since suffering an injury last season. Now, though, if he stays fit, Matip may have the chance to take his place back next to Van Dijk after Liverpool’s recent defensive struggles.
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