Joel Matip

Ederson out for Liverpool game, while Van Dijk fit for Reds

Leave a comment

Pep Guardiola confirmed Manchester City’s injury fears ahead of the massive game against Liverpool at Anfield, with Ederson set to miss out after limping off at halftime of the weekday Champions League draw with Atalanta.

The Brazilian goalkeeper was withdrawn at the break for Claudio Bravo, who himself was unable to finish the match after being sent off, leaving Kyle Walker to don the gloves for the final few minutes. “He is not able to play,” Guardiola said of Ederson. “On Sunday he cannot play. We have another top keeper. We won the Carabao Cup and FA Cup thanks to Claudio. He is an exceptional goalkeeper.”

That leaves Man City even more thin at the back, already missing defenders Aymeric Laporte and Oleksandr Zinchenko to long-term knee injuries. Laporte has a torn ACL and will miss at least the majority of the season, while Zinchenko is expected back in December after knee surgery of his own. John Stones is back in action, having returned in mid-October from his injury and utilized in each of the last three Premier League games, but he was rested midweek as Fernandinho deputized at center-back alongside Nicolas Otamendi.

Guardiola did not address the status of David Silva, but reports state that the Spaniard will also miss the game against Liverpool. The boss did say last weekend that Silva would be sidelined 10-12 days with a muscular injury suffered against Southampton. With two goals and four assists this season, Silva would be a big loss to an already thin Man City squad that utilized Bernardo Silva in a more central role with the Spaniard missing midweek.

For Liverpool, Jurgen Klopp confirmed that defender Virgil Van Dijk is ready to go despite missing training on Thursday, confirming that the absence was merely for personal reasons as the defender returned home to receive an award from the Dutch royal family. The Reds boss did say that Joel Matip and Xherdan Shaqiri are both out for the game, meaning that either Dejan Lovren or Joe Gomez will partner van Dijk in the middle. Lovren has played each of the last two Premier League matches in place of Matip, while Gomez was given the start midweek against Genk in Champions League play.

Liverpool’s Matip could miss ‘up to six weeks’

Photo by Oli SCARFF / AFP
Leave a comment

Liverpool has joined title rivals Manchester City in the injured center back department.

It’s just one injury for Liverpool, but the absence of 28-year-old Joel Matip will not be a welcome one for the Anfield set.

[ MORE: USWNT hires new coach ]

Matip has grown into a near-perfect complement to Virgil Van Dijk, and recently signed a new long-term deal with the Reds.

The Liverpool Echo claims that a time table is not clear for Matip’s return, though The London Evening Standard’s David Lynch reports Matip he could miss up to six weeks.

Matip is not Aymeric Laporte, and City is also missing Rodri, but the Cameroon national teamer’s absence will ask a lot of either Joe Gomez or Dejan Lovren.

There are teams with far worse depth, but the Reds will want to be at their best against Man City and that test comes Nov. 10.

He’ll certainly miss the League Cup match at Arsenal on Wednesday, while Aston Villa, Genk, Crystal Palace, Brighton, and Napoli will also meet Liverpool before the end of November. The Merseyside Derby is Dec. 4.

Matip signs new Liverpool deal; Klopp hails ‘world-class center-half’

Photo by Nathan Stirk/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Liverpool now has two 28-year-old center backs tied up in deals for the next half-decade.

The Reds announced a new deal for Joel Matip on Friday, one that will keep him with Liverpool through the 2023/24 season.

[ PL PREVIEW: Man Utd v. Liverpool ]

That’s one season beyond the status of Virgil Van Dijk. While there were reports that Van Dijk would sign a new deal with the club, he remains locked into Liverpool through the end of the 2022/23 season.

Jurgen Klopp used the announcement to hail Matip’s journey through the Liverpool ranks. From LiverpoolFC.com:

“I knew what he was capable of from seeing him up close in the Bundesliga and we were certain he could bring that performance level to us. Of course, it is not easy for any player coming to the Premier League, let alone coming to a club the size of Liverpool, so maybe in the beginning there were some questions externally about his consistency. But not anymore. Joel has been operating as a world-class centre-half throughout this year and long may it continue.”

The Reds also have 22-year-old Joe Gomez under contract through 2024, while Dejan Lovren will enter the last year of his contract next season.

Liverpool also signed 17-year-old Sepp van den Berg from PEC Zwolle in the summer.

Klopp tabs Matip as ‘one of the best pieces of business’ for Liverpool

Getty Images
Leave a comment

On Friday, in Liverpool’s run-up to a Premier League battle with Sheffield United, Jurgen Klopp labeled Joel Matip as “one of the best pieces of business we did in the last few years.”

He’s not wrong.

“In a world of big transfer fees, to sign a player like Joel Matip on a free transfer is incredible,” Klopp said. Again, he’s not wrong.

The 28-year-old signed on a free from German side Schalke back in the summer of 2016, and he has become a fixture of the Liverpool defense, standing strong next to Virgil Van Dijk as part of one of the best back lines in Europe.

It essentially happened by accident. Matip, signed as nothing more than defensive cover for a squad that included Dejan Lovren, Mamadou Sakho, Joe Gomez, and Ragnar Klavan. Yet he started 27 matches that season, forging a partnership with Lovren with Sakho on his way out, Gomez still too young for a consistent role, and Klavan down the depth chart. The next season van Dijk was brought in and yet Matip pushed through hamstring and ankle injuries to make 22 starts. Last season, en route to a vicious title challenge and a Champions League crown, Matip again was not meant to start, but with Lovren and Gomez both injured, Matip formed a critical partnership with van Dijk and has led by example.

So who else has come from relative obscurity on a savvy bit of business to take a starring role? Here are the five best bits of business in the Premier League currently playing for the club that snagged them, outside of Klopp’s prized center-back of course.

5) Kasper Schmeichel, Leicester City (Leeds United, $2 million)

Goalkeepers never draw the same massive transfer fees as their outfield counterparts, but even so, the Leicester City shot-stopper has been a true man of the badge since joining in 2011, making 341 appearances for the Foxes and proving a key cog in the legendary run to the title a few years back. That team was full of great value players (more on that in a bit), and while they cashed in on some, the son of the legendary Manchester United goalkeeper stuck around the club he loves.

4) Dele Alli, Tottenham Hotspur (MK Dons, $6 million)

As just a teenager, Alli was sent to Spurs in the winter of early 2015 and immediately loaned back to MK Dons for the rest of the season. Immediately, they had to know their mistake. Alli was selected as the Football League Young Player of the Year in April, and his career skyrocketed from there. Providing both a physical presence and free-flowing nature on the ball, Alli has proven a versatile option in midfield for Spurs, and while he struggles to maintain consistent form, his best is both fearsome and artistic. Still just 23 years old, it seems the best may be yet to come for the England midfielder who has already racked up 187 appearances for the London club.

3) Andy Robertson, Liverpool (Hull City, $10 million)

Sure, Joel Matip came for free, but he still might not be the best bit of business on the club. Andy Robertson, Liverpool’s stellar left-back, signed for $10 million and looks to be the makings of a downright star. At 25 years old, he also looks set to be a Red for quite some time, giving the club incredible value for its money. $10 million in today’s market doesn’t net teams what it used to, making it all the more impressive the Reds could snag a player of his promise for such a price. Along with Trent Alexander-Arnold on the other side, the Reds appear set for a long time with one of Europe’s best back lines.

2) Cesar Azpilicueta, Chelsea (Marseille, $9 million)

The Blues are known for splashing the cash, but the then-23-year-old Spaniard came over from Ligue 1 in the summer of 2012 to little fanfare. He has gone on to make 345 appearances for Chelsea, serving as captain for many and proving a versatile and consistent option along the defense. Perhaps the most stunning part of Azpilicueta’s career is that he only has 25 caps for Spain, a shockingly low number for such a valuable player at one of Europe’s biggest clubs. Still, his service to Chelsea has been a far cry from his measly up-front cost.

1) Jamie Vardy, Leicester City (Fleetwood Town, $1.5 million)

Much has been made of Vardy’s story, having come from the semi-professional ranks and risen up to a Premier League title. For what he’s given Leicester City – 277 appearances and 110 goals, including 83 Premier League strikes in 182 appearances – the fee is next to nothing. Not many could have predicted what Vardy would provide, or that he’d become a regular for the England national team before the rise of Harry Kane, but now the tale has been written. Vardy will go down as one of the most undervalued transfers in Premier League history, deservedly so.

Manchester City wins Community Shield

Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images
Leave a comment

It took penalty kicks to separate Liverpool and Manchester City in a wasteful but entertaining Community Shield on Sunday at Wembley Stadium.

Claudio Bravo‘s second round stop of Georginio Wijnaldum met perfect finishing from the reigning domestic treble champions after a 1-1 score line over 90 minutes.

[ MORE: Player ratings | 3 things ]

The Reds were dominant in the second half, but only found one goal before penalties.

Sterling tucked a delightful David Silva flick under Alisson Becker in the first half, but Joel Matip nodded a late equalizer past Bravo in the second half.

Leroy Sane limped off after just 11 minutes with an injury which could jeopardize a nine-figure deal to Bayern Munich.

[ MORE: Mandzukic agrees Man Utd terms ]

Sane lashed into the side netting after Raheem Sterling picked the pocket of an unaware Joe Gomez in the fourth minute.

At the other end, Roberto Firmino juggled to set up a left-footed lash right to Claudio Bravo.

The Reds probably should’ve been up when Firmino slipped Mohamed Salah into the box, but the Egyptian couldn’t turn his shot near the goal.

Sterling could, however, side-footing a flick from David Silva under Alisson Becker, who would’ve liked to have done better.

Salah looked for a quick response, cooking Oleksandr Zinchenko on the right before missing the near post again.

Kevin De Bruyne was also very much in preseason form in terms of finishing, and his scuffed shot turned into a Sterling chance which Alisson did well to save.

Sterling then beat the Liverpool line and Alisson only to hit the far post in the 48th minute.

The Reds were all over City in the early second half, and Liverpool fans were hoping the Goal Decision System would tell them Virgil Van Dijk leveled off a corner kick to no avail.

Salah then hit the post after Sterling partially blocked a Trent Alexander-Arnold free kick.

Sterling should’ve made it 2-0 again, but the relatively wasteful forward dribbled directly into Alisson.

If Salah, Sterling, and De Bruyne were in peak finishing form, this could’ve easily been a 4-3 match, with the last name scuffing a low shot to Alisson in the 73rd.

Van Dijk kept a rally alive to set up Matip for a headed equalizer in the final 15 minutes.

Bravo made a fine save on Naby Keita in the 83rd minute.

Salah’s umpteenth chance of the game could’ve decided it in stoppage time, but Walker made an incredible goal line clearance and the ensuing corner was poorly served above the fray.