Liverpool will face Everton tonight in their first Merseyside derby of the season, and as always form can mean nothing in this fixture.
Despite Everton losing four of their last five games, and Liverpool comfortably thirteen points clear of their local rivals, we know that this game could turn form on its head, with Everton not only desperate to defeat their enemy but also needing three points to climb the table to safety.
The Reds are suffering a number of injury issues in their midfield, but their defence has returned to full strength with the return of Virgil Van Dijk and the addition of Ibrahima Konate, which has given the backline the ability to rotate comfortably, although Joe Gomez is still side-lined with injury issues.
One player who will be hoping to get his start today at Goodison Park is centre back, Joel Matip.
Matip has struggled with a number of injury problems during his time at Anfield, but this season he seems to be maintaining his fitness and offering more reliability in the backline, thanks to his blossoming partnership with van Dijk.
Jurgen Klopp often sings the praises of his players and hailed Matip when reflecting on his recent form in the side. The German said:
“He was a bit unlucky in the past with an injury here and there – maybe not always the most difficult things but he is a big boy, a big player, tall and it can look from time to time a bit edgy or whatever.
“But he is an incredible player, he was always an incredible player since he joined us at least. So that’s really good.”
Klopp must unleash Matip in the centre back pairing tonight with van Dijk as the 6 foot 5 beast would be a better fit for the game than Konate on this occasion as experience and intimidation are key in this derby.
Matip will have no problem getting stuck into players, and assisting his centre back partner in breaking down Everton’s attacking prowess and bullying the likes of Richarlison and Demarai Gray. After all, he has won a whopping 3.6 aerial duels per game this term, the second-highest in Klopp’s squad.
Luckily, Dominic Calvert Lewin has been confirmed as an absentee for the game, despite hinting a few weeks ago that he could’ve been back for it, so it shouldn’t be too challenging a shift for the Reds going forward.
In other news: Klopp must unleash Fabinho against Everton