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Joel Matip’s season likely over due to injury

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Joel Matip’s season looks likely to be over after he suffered a thigh injury in Liverpool’s 2-1 win at Crystal Palace on Saturday.

The center back, 26, played alongside Virgil Van Dijk in the win but ahead of Liverpool’s UEFA Champions League quarterfinal first leg with Manchester City at Anfield on Wednesday, the club have confirmed Matip’s injury is likely to require surgery.

In his second season with Liverpool after arriving from Schalke on a free transfer, Matip has been an important part of an improved Reds defense but since van Dijk arrived in January for a club record $100 million the Cameroon international has found himself splitting minutes with Dejan Lovren.

Here are more details from Liverpool’s website on Matip’s injury.

“Matip was able to complete the full 90 minutes of the fixture, but afterwards medical assessment on the thigh revealed surgery is expected to be required to correct the problem. The operation is likely to end the 26-year-old’s involvement in the remainder of the 2017-18 season.”

This is a blow for Jurgen Klopp and Liverpool, especially after losing Joe Gomez through injury over the international break, but now it is time for Lovren to step up and prove his doubters wrong.

There has been signs of promise about Lovren and VVD playing together and now we will find out just how good they are as a partnership as they will likely play all of Liverpool’s remaining eight games (and possibly more if they get past City in the Champions League) of the season together at center back.

VVD is the main man at Liverpool and now Lovren must find his best form as he has started ahead of Matip in big games in recent months but has struggled at times as he was at fault during Liverpool’s defeat at Manchester United last month.

Report: Liverpool could lose Matip for a month

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Originally ruled out for just this weekend’s fixture against Brighton and Hove Albion, the prognosis of Liverpool defender Joel Matip’s injury worry appears worse than feared.

According to the Liverpool Echo, Matip could miss up to a month of action due to a thigh injury, potentially sidelining him for a busy set of games. Between now and the end of December, Liverpool has eight matches, including one against Arsenal and another in the UEFA Champions League.

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The injury is yet another blow to a beleaguered Liverpool backline, which has conceded 18 goals this Premier League season. Matip has made 13 appearances in the Premier League this season.

Liverpool is going to have to get big performances from Dejan Lovren, Joe Gomez and Ragnar Klavan in the center of defense while Matip is gone if they want to remain competitive for a Champions League position.

West Ham 1-4 Liverpool: Salah keeps shining

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  • Reds score twice in 3 first half minutes
  • Liverpool sixth with 19 points
  • West Ham now 17th

Red-hot Mohamed Salah scored two more goals as Liverpool hammered West Ham United 4-1 at the London Stadium on Saturday in what will surely lead to more calls for Irons coach Slaven Bilic‘s job.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Joel Matip also scored for the Reds, while Manuel Lanzini scored West Ham’s only marker.

Liverpool finishes the day in sixth, climbing back above Burnley on 19 points.

West Ham could finish the weekend in the drop zone if Everton beats Watford on Sunday.

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Joe Hart made a fine intervention early, and it was Simon Mignolet‘s chance to feel danger when Andre Ayew beat him but not the goal in the ninth minute.

West Ham looked up for it until opening up for a counter after a misplayed corner kick. Sadio Mane dribbled the majority of the pitch before deferring to Salah to beat Hart.

Matip then tapped a rebound past Hart off a corner kick. Salah’s corner came off Mark Noble to force Hart’s parry. That fell right to Matip. 2-0, 24′.

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Lanzini bodied Joe Gomez to make it 2-1 with two slick touches, but West Ham made it 3-1 within a minute when Oxlade-Chamberlain had two cracks at Hart.

It could’ve been 3-2 through Lanzini again, but he skied his chance over the bar after a nice feed from Andy Carroll.

Javier Hernandez was pushed in the back with a chance to nod home, but Neil Swarbrick didn’t see a enough for a penalty kick.

Salah made it a three-goal cushion with his final marker of the day.

WATCH: Liverpool scores twice in 157 seconds vs. West Ham

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West Ham’s plans to topple Liverpool quickly went to the birds on Saturday at the London Stadium.

The Reds struck like lightning off a West Ham corner, and Opta tweeted that it took Mohamed Salah 13 seconds from the set piece to the back of its own net.

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Edimilson Fernandes didn’t help things by charging and missing the counter attack, and Sadio Mane dribbled long down the pitch before setting Salah up for the goal.

It took under three minutes for Liverpool to double its lead and heap misery on Slaven Bilic‘s men. Salah’s corner was almost an own goal, but Joe Hart made a solid reaction save off Mark Noble only to see the ball zip to the path of Joel Matip for a tap-in.

Tactics Session: Liverpool’s midfield to blame for poor defending, too

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Here’s something said by anyone and everyone who’s watched an hour of the Premier League over the last 24 months: Liverpool won’t win the PL title until Jurgen Klopp sorts out that shambolic defense.

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Well, duh, and thanks for really going out on a limb with that one.

On Saturday, NBC Sports’ Robbie Earle went error-by-error in picking apart one of the Reds’ many defensive breakdowns (above video) during last weekend’s 4-1 defeat at the hands of Tottenham Hotspur. In short, Dejan Lovern, Joel Matip, Joe Gomez and Simon Mignolet were all guilty of critical errors as Harry Kane opened the scoring after just four minutes. There’s another group of players, though, which is worth considering as opponents continue to pick Liverpool apart on a near-weekly basis.

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Theory: it’s actually Liverpool’s midfield which is most responsible for this season’s repeated disasters at the back. The results are as poor as they’ve ever been under Klopp — they had the worst defensive record of the PL’s “big six” sides during Klopp’s first (partial) season at Anfield, followed by the second-worst of the six last season, and are sixth out of six thus far in 2017-18 — with little reason to expect significant change as the defensive characters remain the same. When called upon in 2016-17, again, it was simply more of the same.

The key difference being: they were better protected, thus forced into action less frequently, in the past. Whether by design or happenstance, the midfield and forward lines aren’t disrupting possession and winning the ball back as consistently as previous iterations of Klopp’s old gegenpress system. Most notably, it’s the early moments (first five seconds, or three passes) of opposition possession which haven’t been challenged with that familiar urgency.

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Take, for instance, that loss to Tottenham — while Jordan Henderson, James Milner and Emre Can are probably the three most “defensive” midfield options in Klopp’s squad, they’re also the three least mobile and press-suited. Georginio Wijnaldum is often labeled an “attacking” midfielder, that what makes him perfectly suited for the transition from pressing to attacking. The same goes for Adam Lallana, who’s currently injured and gutting this side through his absence. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, should he ultimately end up in central midfield, is very similar in that regard. Marko Grujic, while still a relative PL unknown, profiles better as a central midfielder than the three who started at Wembley Stadium.

Without that constant on-ball pressure, Mauricio Pochettino was inspired in his tactical tweak to feature Harry Winks, Christian Eriksen and Dele Alli in a pass-heavy midfield-three, as the three on-ball technicians were able to play through the middle third of the field with very little resistance and get at the likes of Lovren, Matip and Gomez more directly. The return of starting right back Nathaniel Clyne (hamstring), who hasn’t played a minute this season, will undoubtedly add a bit more mobility and athleticism to an otherwise plodding rearguard.

It’s a trend that, should it continue, will result in more and more — and easier and easier — goals conceded by the Reds.