An injury picked up during Liverpool’s preseason adventures delayed its commencement, but the early signs are encouraging for the Joël Matip era. Though defensive partner Dejan Lovren picked up the Sky Sports Man of the Match award, Matip caught the eye of pundits and supporters alike with an assured, impressive performance, keeping Spurs danger man Harry Kane largely in check during the contest.
Matip’s early promise will go some way towards quelling the confusion and uneasiness around the ongoing Mamadou Sakho saga. Former Liverpool player and manager Graeme Souness (who, it has to be said, divides opinion as a commentator) suggested after the match that he expects Lovren and Matip to be the first choice defensive partnership for Jürgen Klopp going forward, and it’s difficult to see how it could be otherwise at this early stage. A brief survey of social media suggests many supporters are inclined to agree with Souness.
Though Sadio Mané has been the eye-catching game-changer of the recently arrived transfers, Matip may, in time, prove to be the biggest bargain of this summer’s captures, given that he arrived on a free transfer following the expiration of his contract with Schalke 04. If Loris Karius can seize his opportunity as Simon Mignolet’s heir (hair?) apparent, and if Ragnar Klavan cements his role as a solid deputy in defense, it will have been a quietly successful window for Liverpool, at least on the inbound side of things.
Like many whose sympathies lie with Liverpool, Matip was somewhat disappointed to have to share points with Tottenham. The Cameroonian international won’t, however, be dwelling too long on what could have been. Instead, speaking after the match, Matip showed he is looking forward to an Anfield debut against champions Leicester City in just under fortnight, and is eager to build on his partnership with Lovren:
“We were in front for a long time but in the end, we only got one goal. We have to work with this point. Three games, four points. Now we play at home and we want to take three points.
Dejan always covered me and gave me help. I also tried to help him. But it was very difficult because it was an intense game. But we can continue and next time maybe we’ll win.”
Jamie Vardy: you’re next.