20, September 2017
Liverpool need to build their defence around Joel Matip, Garth Crooks has claimed. The Reds have made a mixed start to the Premier League season in Jurgen Klopp’s second full campaign in charge of the Merseyside outfit.
Liverpool missed out on the signing of Southampton captain Virgil van Dijk in the summer transfer window to leave Klopp with the same options at centre-half. Klopp has stuck with Matip for all of Liverpool’s Premier League games so far but has alternated between Dejan Lovren and Ragnar Klavan to partner the Cameroon international.
And the Estonia international partnered the African centre-half for Liverpool’s 1-1 draw with Burnley on Saturday to extend their winless run to three games. The Reds have already conceded 14 goals in eight games in all competitions to raise serious questions about Liverpool’s ability to defend.
Klopp has failed to address Liverpool’s defensive issues which continue to undermine their progress in other areas of the pitch under the former Borussia Dortmund coach. Former Spurs legend Crooks believes Liverpool should build their back four around Matip if Klopp wants to improve his team’s defensive performances.
“Joel Matip is a very willing defender and without the Cameroon centre-back’s exploits against Burnley, Liverpool would almost certainly have lost,” Crooks told BBC Sport. “His header off the line from a Ben Mee effort was priceless for the Reds and the Burnley defender nearly gave the Kop another heart attack when Simon Mignolet just about managed to stop the ball crossing the line after another free header at the far post.
“However, it was Matip, acting as his goalkeeper’s insurance policy, who saved the day. I’ve expressed my views about Liverpool’s defence on a number of occasions and they were desperately lucky to survive this fixture.”
Crooks added: “I will say this: Matip is an honest competitor capable of producing excellent performances on his day. But for goodness sake, he needs a defence around him.” Matip moved to Liverpool in a free transfer from Bundesliga outfit Schalke 04 in the 2016 summer transfer window.
Source: The Sports Review