Written by Mizgan Masani.
When Joel Matip arrived at Liverpool as a free agent from Schalke in the summer of 2016, not many had an idea as to what type of a centre-back the Reds were getting. He had played seven seasons in the Bundesliga until then.
Thereafter, even though the retired Cameroon international made 67 appearances in his first two full seasons, there were doubts regarding his sustainability at the club on a long-term basis. The main reason for this uncertainty was his unavailability in quite a number of games due to niggly injuries.
If we look at the numbers, Matip missed 33 games and a total of 156 days of football during his first two seasons at Anfield. It was as if he was struggling to cope with the training demands of Jürgen Klopp, or adjusting to the intensity of the Premier League was taking its toll.
Then the start of the 2018-19 campaign saw Joe Gomez strike an amazing partnership with Virgil van Dijk, leaving Matip on the periphery. Alongside Alisson in goal, they formed a formidable trio.
However, once the former got injured in December and Dejan Lovren showed weak form in games after that, Jurgen Klopp turned to Matip and give him an extended run of games to chisel out an understanding with van Dijk.
Ever since, the 28-year-old has been near-perfect in terms of his performance and also in the partnership he has formed with the PFA and UEFA Player of the Year, at times even outshining his illustrious Dutch partner. The game against Crystal Palace on the 19th January started Matip’s elongated run in the team. Liverpool have played 36 games in all competitions from that point on till date. The former Schalke man started in 29 of them, winning 23, drawing five (one draw went to penalties in the Super Cup which they won) and losing only once, at Napoli. Injury-wise, he was available for all the games, barring the two latest ones just before this international break
In those 29 games, the Reds have shipped in 23 goals, at an average of 0.79 goals per game. If we remove the two freak games where they conceded thrice in a game (against Palace and Barcelona), it comes to 17 goals in 27 games at an average of 0.62.
Statistical Study of Joel Matip’s game
The rest of this article is for Subscribers only.