“I Think So…” – Neil Jones On Whether Loss Of ‘Outstanding’ Ace Will Alter Liverpool’s Plans

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The Anfield crowd were taken on a real rollercoaster ride last Sunday as Liverpool came from behind to beat Fulham 4-3.

The Reds conducted their own goal-of-the-month competition with stunning strikes from Trent Alexander-Arnold, Alexis Mac Allister and Wataru Endo.

Trent’s late strike proved recent criticism of the atmosphere inside the ground may be premature as Jürgen Klopp’s side – spurred on by the roars of the fans – rallied to win the game with two goals in a minute.

One sour note from the victory was the injury to the in-form Joël Matip. The 32-year-old is set for a long spell out with a knee ligament problem which – according to his manager – ‘doesn’t look great’.

Matip joins first-team regulars Andy Robertson, Alisson and Diogo Jota on the sidelines as the side attempts to make progress in all four major competitions in the next month.

On the latest episode of our Journo Insight show, we asked experienced LFC reporter Neil Jones for his thoughts on the Matip injury.

Sheffield United v Liverpool | The Match Preview Show

“The Joël Matip experience – as soon as it gets to three games a week, you start to worry about Matip, don’t you?

“Would you give him a new contract? I think I said I wouldn’t – because of this. I’m gutted for him because he was playing well. He was deservedly in the team.

“The worry with Joe Gomez is he’s another one – the more you ask him to play, the more likely he is to get injured. Connor Bradley’s back now, so that hopefully helps the right-back situation.

“Could it bring forward any January plans? I think so, depending on what’s available and who they’re looking at getting. If they’ve identified two or three targets for next summer and one of them is available in January for a fee, I wouldn’t see why they wouldn’t.

“It’s not ideal, but you’ve got Nat Phillips not playing at Celtic, you’ve got Rhys Williams not playing at Aberdeen. We could see either of those two back just as emergency cover, even just for January and then move on.

“If you’ve got Van Dijk, I think that might even help Quansah if you had to put him in a league game. He did really well alongside Matip at Wolves.

“I think if you put him in Wednesday at Sheffield United with Van Dijk, I think you’d feel relatively comfortable that he can handle it.

“I think Quansah has been a big bonus, we’ve said it a few times on the show. He’s made a massive difference to Liverpool’s feeling of comfort with regards to centre-backs. He might be needed over the next few weeks.”

Is it time for Trent to play centre-mid? | The Deep Dive

Redmen Reacts

With so much to do to rectify the midfield over the summer transfer window, there was a fear that a lack of defensive reinforcements may come back to bite Jürgen Klopp at some point this season. The defence feels like it could be on the edge of a full-blown injury crisis. Joe Gomez is having to cover multiple positions, Kostas Tsimikas is the only left-back available with first-team experience and Ibou Konaté has struggled to string together a regular run of games.

Thankfully – until now – Joël Matip’s form and fitness have been towards his peak levels this season. It is a great shame to lose the likeable Cameroonian in what could be the tail end of his Liverpool career. The good form of Gomez and the emergence of Jarell Quansah have helped enormously, with the young Warringtonian impressing in the Premier League and in Europe.

The Guardian’s Andy Hunter wrote yesterday that Matip is expected to be out for ‘several months’. This could – and probably should – necessitate a dip into the transfer market in January. The club have brought forward summer signings in the last two seasons. If a quality, versatile defensive target is available, he may make all the difference as the Reds attempt to win multiple competitions.

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