Last month, Jurgen Klopp described a 2-1 victory over Burnley at Turf Moor as the first ugly win of his Liverpool career – a rather significant step for the Reds considering he took the Anfield hot seat in November 2015.
Well, Sunday’s performance against West Bromwich Albion suggested it was no fluke, as Liverpool produced yet another unmemorable display but managed to claim another win on the road against the eighth-placed Premier League outfit.
Crucial to that, in addition to Roberto Firmino’s 46th minute goal which proved to be the winner, was Liverpool’s ability to keep a clean sheet – something they’d done only seven times in the Premier League before this weekend.
And in that regard, Klopp owes much to summer signing Joel Matip, who was an absolute rock at the heart of defence on Sunday afternoon. Indeed, as our infographic shows, Matip completed three tackles, three interceptions and three aerial duels, whilst taking the occasionally necessary Row-Z option five times.
Equally impressive, however, was the Cameroonian’s contribution on the ball. In addition to a 90% pass completion rate, he actually had the most touches of the ball of any Liverpool player. Capable in possession yet ready to win ugly when required, Matip could be the defensive leader the Reds need to make themselves a real force in next season’s title race.